Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fall garden

I don't really know much about how other people in Kentucky do with their gardens, but I am going to be experimenting with fall gardening this year. Besides, I felt a little cheated this spring with all the constant rain preventing me from planting a good bit of my veggies.

I have planted a double row of Sugar Snap peas, 2 double rows of English peas, some mixed lettuce, baby spinach, and swiss chard. That is sweet potato vines you can see to the right of the new rows.

I also used 1 row and sprinkled in some cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower seed to see if it would germinate and grow. I covered all rows with a thin layer of straw, like when you plant grass seed, figuring it might shade the seedlings til they get a start and also help keep the ground from drying out so fast.

Then early this morning I soaked it all down good with the sprinkler....... well, to be quite honest, I almost flooded the garden area because I got busy and forgot to turn the sprinkler off until 7:30 tonight. So the seeds are good and soaked. We are due for some rain the next couple days and cooler weather the next week so I thought I'd just "stablize the seed" by giving the ground a good soaking. Time will tell if anything grows.

I also had to sit down in the shade from time to time under the pin oak tree in the yard next to the garden. Look what grew up beside my garden chair this summer .... another little volunteer sunflower!

Do any of you in the middle southern states plant a fall garden ? I would like to know what crops you plant and when and what you have had succcess with. All comments welcome.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Give credit where credit is due ....

Woohoo! I did it! I made a Susan McMinn Peach Pie !

Thanks so much to Susan for posting this peach pie recipe on her blog, "Chickens in the Road". I have never made a successful peach pie before in my life. Other pretty good pies yes, but not peach. She made it look so good and the recipe was so easy to follow. She has many wonderful recipes posted there.

My hubby was very happy with it! Doesn't it look delicious?
I will also be trying Susan's peach-pit jelly recipe.

Food Preservation - part 2

I love the bright sun coming in my hall entry in the morning as if to say "Good Day" to me on my way to the kitchen

It will be a busy place today with all this........

Yumm! spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and canned-tomato time is here! And there are plenty more tomatoes in our garden where these came from ......
Herbs from our herb garden are used to make a nice aromic and flavorful sauce.

..... oregano and basil here .... after cleaning, inspecting the leaves, and removing from stems, I chop them up fine. A pizza wheel run back and forth over them does a great job.

I make my sauce the lazy way, and just whurr the whole tomates in the blender; seeds, skin and all. No waste that way. Then cook it down with added salt, bell peppers, onions, celery, and when reduced in volumn I add the herbs.

Cook another 20 min, add precooked ground beef and sausage, put in jars and process. Spaghetti sauce is done in quart jars, pizza meat sauce (with our own farm-raised beef) on the left is done up in pints, and so are the canned tomatoes..
Nothing like home-made. A lot of work, but every bit worth the trouble. There is something very satisfying about putting up your own food. Time to go pick the next batch of tomatoes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Food Preservation at Our House - part 1

I use many methods of preserving food from our gardens to keep us through the winter months and beyond. I freeze corn, broccoli, melon chunks or balls, grapes; can or freeze green beans; can peaches, pears and applesauce; pickle beets; make saurkraut in the jars; cool-store winter squash and sweet potatoes; and the list goes on .....
This year I am especially enjoying my pepper garden ...... just look at all the colors!

I cut these in strips for fajitas, mixed them with cut up onion, and tossed into freezer bags. Do you know how much this stuff costs in the stores in off season?? Peppers are so easy to freeze.
But they do take up room needed for other things, so ....

I also dehydrated some. This little bag-full came from a good-sized 3-gal pail of peppers!
My oldest daughter now has the dehydrator her grandmother had, an ExCalibur, so last year I bought a new one, same brand, both have 9 trays with a temp control and timer. Great dehydrator!

This morning I was up at 4;45, could not sleep , so I cut up some yellow squash ( great for adding to veg. soups) about 7 small ones, and started them drying.

I also added a sliced roma tomato on one shelf to see how it would turn out.

and there is the finished product. My hubby has also made a mean beef jerky using this dehydrator. That stuff is expensive to buy..... The thing is making sure to get the food dry enough, so mold and bacteria cannot grow.

We did not always have a dehydrator. Years ago I dried my onions, garlic and dry beans on old window screens and covered with cheese-cloth in the sun in the back yard. I hung my herbs from the rafters in the barn loft. Fruit leathers were dried in the oven. As for canning, I had a three burner hot-plate on a home-made stand on the front porch (way out in the country) and made my tomato sauce in a double boiler, one that covered at least 2 burners. One year I canned 700 hundred qts of produce, Well, gracious.... I had 5 children to feed! (#6 came along later) But I never canned that amount after....

We have also canned chicken, rabbit and venison. I may be canning hamburger this year to be able to shut down a freezer and save the utilities. As far as other meat we have also "salt-cured" hams from our home-grown pork... but thats another story ..........

and now I am off to work for a hour on the border of my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. A restful end to a busy day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just a Walk in the Park...

I had started letting the chickens out for about a half hr. before dark so they can run, and eat bugs and greens

My rooster thinks he is just "Cock of the walk"

They sure enjoy the freedom; picking and running and flapping their wings.

I don't leave them out too long or they would find the garden :0
And they all need to be tucked safely in at night. Too many predators looking for an easy meal!
Do you let your chickens free range?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Banana-Applesauce Muffins

I had hurt my back and was down a couple days, but this morning I got up, no pain and feeling full of energy! So I used up my over-ripe bananas in this new (to me) recipe using applesauce instead of oil in a banana bread recipe, only I made muffins instead. They are so moist! .... and nutritionally better for you!

I am going to have one right now for my lunch ..... with cream cheese on it! want some? I'll share...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Processing Chickens (not for the squeamish...)

We like our chickens and they have a good life while they are here, but the time comes for some of them to serve their purpose.... on our dinner-table.

Here in a nut-shell is how we process them. Hubby takes a sharp axe and with a swift blow cuts the head off, immediately rendering the chicken dead. The nerves of the body still cause it to move some for a couple minutes, but no pain is felt as the brain is seperate from the body. This procedure also allows the carcass to bleed out.

We immediately remove the feathers, skin and inerds, and remove the feet and legs to the first joint, then plunge the bird into a 5 gal. bucket filled with cold, cold water. The bucket will hold about 3 good sized birds, and we change the water frequently. After the chickens are butchered we cut them up into pieces; legs, thighs, breast, backs necks and wings, and put on the stove in large pots to cook until the meat starts to fall off the bone.

While it is still hot, we pick the meat off the bones, pack the jars, and pour broth over them.

Processing takes 1 hr and 15 mins for quarts, and 1 hr for pints, even though it has already been thoroughly cooked.

This makes for a wonderful meal that can be gotten ready in short order. It can be used for chicken and noodles, chicken and biscuits, chicken noodle soup, baked chicken cassarole, chicken sandwiches, and the list goes on and on....
We processed 14 quarts from 12 chickens, one did not seal and went to the fridge, and one went in the freezer. But doesn't this look absolutely yummy? We had chicken and noodles for the first meal with a side dish of fresh green beans from the garden. Another side dish of fried apples compliments it well.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Today is D-Day for the roasters, er.... roosters, red and black both.

We will be keeping several black hens for layers.
Hubby will do the butchering and I will be cooking, cleaning meat off the bones and canning it up . I wonder how many quarts of chicken meat I will get from 12 chickens??