Early Fall

I have posted about this mini high tunnel plenty before, but there is always something new going on in there. A week ago we put the plastic over the tunnel. Nights are down to the low 30’s and days are in the low 50’s. When the sun is out though, the tunnel, with the plastic on it, can get upwards of mid 70’s and close to 80s, so it has to be watched carefully and vented to be sure things don’t cook in there! That means of course that it needs closing up as the sun goes down, and it’s hard to remember to do it, while cooking dinner and other things are on my mind.

It’s all so worth it though because I have beautiful spinach and radishes coming up in there, and so we will have salads probably till December/January when even this tiny but mighty tunnel winds down. It’s funny the spinach doesn’t die, it just stops growing in December and January, but when February rolls around and the longer days offer the tunnel more sun, it gets very warm in there and it grows while you watch it!

The radishes needed thinning the other day, so I kept the little fellas, they seemed too perfect to cast aside, so we had a radish green salad with blue cheese that night.

This is a puffball mushroom. This variety does not grow huge like the others, to my understanding. I only found one, we cooked it up, and it was very good!

Inside of the the mushroom.

The cooked puffball.

I am so happy to have soup weather again. What is a day without soup? Home canned tomato puree, and loads of dried herbs, and vegetables, and some homemade bone broth. YUM!

We have been enjoying loads of pumpkin seeds. They are a real treat. We had so many pumpkins/squashes, that we grew for the pigs. I let them have some of the seeds (as the seeds are a good natural wormer for them), but usually I take the seeds and give them the pumpkin. I saved the little pie pumpkins for pumpkin puree for breads and pies, for our Thanksgiving table.

There is a lot of Summer in these jars. I have been working hard to grow and forage more herbs and seasonings. Seeing these on the shelf, and being able to use fresh dried herbs is wonderful. I love how good they smell when I open them.

Our Fall pond. It changed a lot over the Summer, we had so much rain this year. It will never be the pond I hoped it would be, but it is still pretty and the wildlife around here loves it.

Peppers dried, powdered, pureed, fermented, sauced, candied and stuffed!

Honestly at this point the big garden is bare, but just a couple of weeks ago, I was collecting peppers by the bucketful! Those tomatoes were the very last of the last! I needed a lot of ways to use all my peppers so it went something like this…

Shishito peppers became…

…dried peppers and the dried peppers became…

…paprika! It may not have been the right variety for making Paprika but it works for me! It was a great way to use a lot of them up.

Ha, ha, still haven’t used them all up yet…there were still more! I decided to cut them and put them in a pot and just barely cover them with water. I simmered them till they were soft and strained them out. Then I put them in the blender and poured them into this ice tray.

Once frozen they went into this bag and now when making tomato soup, I can make it tomato red pepper soup very easily by tossing in a few cubes.

Then there were all the Jalapeños and my one Habanero pepper that grew all on it’s own from seed in the garden. Must have been a seed leftover from last year’s that volunteered into my garden, yielding me one pepper. That’s ok, Habaneros are too much for me! I did make a fermented pepper mix using the one Habanero and a lot of Jalapeños, and a few Shishitos, and of course garlic! It will be used for hot sauce.

When this is done fermenting, I will strain it and puree it, and then add back some of the brine it has been fermenting in, so that I get the consistency I am looking for in a hot sauce.

These pretty Jalapeños went into something called Cowboy Candy! It is a sweet spicy combination, and it is supposed to be good on sandwiches, and I am pretty sure my grandson will think it is great on most things! He was very excited to learn about cowboy candy!

Done! Most of the jars are the Cowboy Candy, but on the left is leftover syrup from it, and that can be brushed on chicken, or pork for a nice carmelization on the outside of the meat, and of course the sweet and spicy flavor will be good on it. Well so far I had taken care of the last of the Shishitos, Jalapeños, and my one Habanero, but I was still left with a handful of green bell peppers.

Stuffed peppers took care of the last of the peppers! These were stuffed with wild rice, leftover diced peppers from omelet making, garlic, dried mushrooms, cutting celery, a few cubes of my frozen pesto, dried tomato pieces, and our ground beef. I love having the wild rice here. It is a treat, and found in the more northern parts of the state, we picked some up when driving back from an up north wedding. I topped it with some local 5 year cheddar shavings and wow, it was great! We had them twice this week, and I still had enough to freeze for a dinner for us this Winter when looking for something quick and easy to serve.

That is the final part of the never ending pepper story. Time to move on to pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread…. As always, enjoying the journey.

 

Dried, sauced, diced, chipped, “cidered” and fermented…

We have so many of these “wild” apples trees. Whether they were planted by the cows years ago, or maybe by a farmer years ago, for whatever reasons they are here, and they are an endless bounty of apples for us. Put this together with the apple trees we planted years ago, and the abundance is amazing! This year in particular was a great apple year, and I am hearing it all around our area. We even had a huge showing of pears on our pear tree, which often leaves us with only a bowlful. Generally most of the pears are on the top of the tree, which is above any sized ladder reach, well ok, if the fire department came out with their ladder truck it would reach those top pears!

So much prettiness!

I made quite a few jars of applesauce that I froze for future pork chops or visiting grandchildren. Our poor littlest grand was so sad last visit. Teething is just no fun and cold applesauce was the ticket to making him happier.

I’ve dried over a gallon of apples into little chips for snacking on. These small chunks were dried for baking into breads or cookies and stirring into Oatmeal.

They turned out chewy and delicious.

While we attended a wedding, well north of here, we let the apples sit, as they are better for making cider after they have sat a bit. When we returned it was time to get to work!

Hubs popped an old motor he had onto this apple crusher unit and it crushed them about a million times faster than when we crank it ourselves. It was a game changing addition to the process!

Turns out that this stainless steel fish poaching pan, (a great Goodwill find, that had never even been used) came in very handy. If the cider was coming out slowly it tended to drip under the spout instead of straight down, so this pan didn’t let a drip get away!

This giant tub is the “apple smash” after crushing it for pressing.

The smash makes for some very happy pigs!

While most of the apple cider and also pear cider, went into our freezers, we still had some leftover when we ran out of containers in which to freeze the cider. So what does one do when you are out of containers?

Make hard cider of course!!! This is bubbling away in the basement. It will be a while before it is fully ready to drink, looking forward to this in early Winter.