A Year of Food

We just are beginning to get tomatoes and they are so welcome! It’s been a long time waiting for them.

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I managed to save one package of our bacon for BLT’s when the tomatoes came in this year. Saving bacon, from last November, to unite with fresh tomatoes that don’t come till the following August takes discipline, but we did it, and it was well worth the wait!

As I finished our last jar of tomato sauce, from last year the other day, I started thinking about all the homesteading that happened here since that jar was canned a year ago. We will take our first steer to the locker this Fall, are raising an extra pig this year, and have many more chickens than last year. Oddly though, this summer I didn’t feel quite the same “homesteading” wonderment as I did last year, but why? After thinking it over, it occurs to me that it may be, because over the course of this year it became less of a ground breaking change for us, like when we started back at the end of November 2012, instead it now became a way of life.

Although some years are thought of as a fiscal year or a calendar year, I think I will mark our year as the Tomato year, from August to August. This year I would like to take things up a few notches and try to freeze, dry and can enough of our vegetables, fruit and meat for a year. Last year I made great progress towards this, but this year will well surpass the preparation from last year. The freezer is looking like I am well on our way to achieving this! I will still buy all of our dairy (locally) as well as staples such as coffee, flour (local), rum (yes it is s a staple) and other basic supplies, but August is officially the kick off to “A Year of Food” here on our homestead.

MUSHROOMS!

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The Shiitake mushrooms surprised us the other day. I had been checking them the whole week Hubby was gone and there were none. A few days later we found these! This is our second flush of them over the last couple of months. Hopefully we will get more before it gets too cold. I made a pasta dish with these mushrooms, and our green peppers and garlic, the last package of our ground pork, the last jar of our tomato sauce from last year and a few of our tomatoes from this year which are really just getting started. I turned it into two different dishes. One was Hubby’s with lots of pasta covered in this delicious sauce, and mine was poured over a steaming bowl of diced Zucchini, with extra mushrooms and onions. Sooooo good!

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We ate them for a couple of days and then I dried a lot of them. These will add nice variety to stir-fry dishes this winter to go with our frozen veggies. They are delicious…

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…and beyond elegant in their design.

Sweet-ish Pancakes :-)

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While Hubby was gone there was one rainstorm.  Just one. Just one that dropped 3+ inches of rain in less than 2 hours! To quote a very good man, this one was a gully washer! It was the perfect rainstorm to find a good window seat with hot coffee in hand. It rained as though faucets had been turned on, no wind to blow the rain, just a steady downpour for the duration. The night before I was regretting not watering. This took care of those regrets!

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I continued on in my food processing… this time, Dill Hot Dog Relish, Pickled Zucchini, Yogurt Cucumber Salad, and more refrigerator pickles.

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Dinner was delicious. Local carrots and beets, my eggplant and broccoli, all roasted in the oven with olive oil. My Hubby and many other husbands would have felt this was an incomplete meal, like something was missing, right?

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I almost forgot about the Bread and Butter Pickles. We love these, another batch will be in order for sure!

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When Hubby returned we had a gathering for his birthday. This collaboratively built salad was perfect for an outdoor celebration. Also on the menu was (locally raised beef) hamburgers on homemade buns (local flour of course, lol), and refrigerator pickles, sliced tomatoes, local melon, pickled carrots, and potato salad made with locally grown potatoes, our eggs, and some of the dill relish I made AND it would have been delicious with dinner, HAD I REMEMBERED TO SERVE IT! Ugh! Well, our guests took home parting gifts. You guessed it, potato salad!

Finally for dessert Grandma made his boy a chocolate cake, and I was going to make him ice cream. Good thing Grandma didn’t know I was making ice cream, because she brought some. What happened to my ice cream? Well, if one does not watch the recipe carefully while on the stove it begins to cook the egg. This is a big no no. Now I had cooked egg, sugar, milk and cream. What do do with all these organic ingredients and our eggs, I couldn’t stand to waste it. Someone said pig food. I had an idea.

HOW DOES ICE CREAM BECOMES PANCAKES?

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Well you’ve likely heard of Swedish Pancakes? This is a “sweet-ish pancake. I added some melted butter and flour to the failed ice cream mixture and these are delicious! Top with ice cream and strawberries from the freezer? A very decadent dessert! …and that is how ice cream became pancakes. A very sweet mistake!

Flying Solo

Hubby was out of town for a week, and I enjoyed my solo flight. Time alone on the farm is not a usual thing, and so it is a special time, in a different way, then our together time on the farm which is special in another way. I tried to do all my granola business before he left so I could make it more of a farm week. I achieved my goal! I did bake one time but the rest of the time I literally did not leave the farm. It was beyond wonderful.

Top this off with 2 days of hanging out with your sister, on said farm? Priceless. We relaxed and did nothing. Well, that is if you call coffee mornings on the deck, cooking good food, and drinking wine on the deck in the evening nothing. It was our kind of nothing and it was perfect. I am often reminded of The Country Mouse and the City Mouse story from long ago, when we are together. She is the city mouse and I am, well, you get it, I’m sure. This city mouse helped slop pigs, toss hay, feed chickens, soaked the wallow and helped move chicken tractors. She even got the last rooster into the coop at night so we could move the chicken tractors. Why is there always one bird who won’t go in? It was great fun. After that I was on my own again. I was also on calf watch, because we are expecting two more calves, for what we have been calling “any day” for the last two weeks. This displays again our greenness with the cattle. We keep learning and they keep throwing more our way to learn. An example being about a month ago one of our newer little one knocked his horn off trying to get between the bars on the gate to reach some hay, he wasn’t supposed to have yet. So much blood, and redder than any red one could imagine it was a Dexter scene I hope to never see again. This is just an example of our learning on the fly, smart phones are great for that in the paddock. Google: our calf knocked his horn off…thankfully Google did not fail us! No matter what I ask, it’s been asked by someone already, and so it is a go to for help!

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There are so many fresh delicious veggies right now, and everyday is a surprise in the garden. These are our radishes and our neighbors cukes and onions. Absolutely delicious the radishes made the cukes just a little spicy.

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While hubby was gone, I worked in the kitchen, for many happy hours.

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This pigs have been loving the kitchen leftovers. Our neighbor sent a box of overripe cukes for them too! Happy, happy pigs!

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Our broccoli is beautiful this year!

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…blanched and ready for the freezer!

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The garlic is drying very nicely, it is almost ready to start using. There will be the yearly debate I wrote about last year. It’s the how much to replant, vs. how much I get to cook with debate. It’s so hard to set some aside when it is such amazingly good garlic!

Another thing I found out while hubby was gone? Although I LOVE cooking, while he was gone there was, no meal planning, no big sit down, and no real clean up from it. I ate simply, when hungry with no schedule! Late afternoons and early evening resulted in large windows of time, I don’t usually have.

This was nice for a change:)