Almost Summer

It’s funny how I don’t realize how much the garden has grown until I see the comparison to it a month ago! The pic below this one really shows the difference. I have started to harvest a bit of kale, collards and chard. Not sure who the little pest is that has been feasting on my swiss chard before I can get to it, but I did manage to get some before the little bugger! Other things are doing quite well, it just might be a bad chard year.

I’ve been adding a little to my herb garden each year and it’s starting to come together nicely. Oregano, Thyme, Chamomile, Rosemary, Calendula, Basil, and cutting celery. I am hoping to add more to this garden by digging up some wild plants and transplanting them here, such as Motherwort, Marsh Mallow, and a few others I have found.

MINT! I have tried growing mint for years, and it’s never enough. People say not to plant it because it will take over everywhere, which is actually what I have hoped for but it never happens. I get a small amount each year. This year though I started a lot of it from seed and finally it is looking pretty good and spreading which is just what I wanted.

PIGS! We picked up our two feeder pigs and these pigs are pig L and pig M. Introducing Lyla and Mabel. They are adjusting well, and are now out on their first pasture. We keep them in their small area till they get to know us and know that we are the food providers. This way when they are out in their pasture we can get them to come to us when we bring their feed bucket to pour into their bowls.

Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, Gill Over the Ground. These are all names for this plant that I have harvested and placed in this jar. Most people know it as the ruination of perfect lawns and call it Creeping Charlie. I prefer to let it grow. It is a good for the bees and now I learned a new use for it. It can be used in salads, but here I am making a tincture out of it. I filled the jar with vodka to cover the plant matter and let it sit for a while and then strained out the plant matter. Tinnitus is a condition that many people have that causes you to hear a humming, ringing, or other sound in the ears when in a very silent room, where no other background sounds can be heard. I have read that a tincture of Ground Ivy can help this and since we are both somewhat bothered by this problem we thought why not give it a try. Who knows if it will really work for us, but it can’t hurt to try.

We have been having a VERY stormy Spring, and the skylines have been dramatic. I love that dark blue sky, filled with constantly changing, cloud formations.

Pheasant back mushrooms. They are not as flavorful as other mushrooms we forage for, such as Morels or Golden Oysters, but I found if you dice them and sauté them in butter till a bit crispy they are great on a salad. If I was a vegetarian I would call them mushroom bacon bits! These particular pheasant backs are a bit large and on the older side, but on the other side of this stump, there were some small young ones I harvested.

Ready for the dehydrator! These are Shitakes and Morels we harvested this Spring. They are all dried now, and ready for Winter soups!

Pickled Asparagus are a real treat and pretty darn great in a Bloody Mary. These will be saved for Winter as well!

I made bagels once and I didn’t do a great job on them, but I think I have the knack now, and these did NOT disappoint! It’s nice to have them in the freezer and take out a few at a time. I have done this with buns as well, so now our freezer always has these items at the ready! When we have a cool day I bake more, saving a few for fresh and the rest in the freezer for another day.

I found out that making Za’atar seasoning is quite easy, and now I finally have a use for the Sumac berries I foraged last year! I ground the sumac berries and then sifted out the seeds. There are various recipes for this but the base recipe is Sumac, Thyme, Toasted sesame seeds and salt. There are other additions such as coriander, ground fennel, cumin and cinnamon with marjoram in some as well. I learned that you can make a paste of it with olive oil and brush it on breads before baking, or add a bit more olive oil to it and use it as a dip for breads, which we tried last night and it was fabulous.

Speaking of foraged items, this one here is one of my favorites to add to tea mixes. It is pineapple weed, which as I understand it, is the wild form of Chamomile. The tiny yellow cone shaped flower smells like pineapple! I thought I wasn’t going to find much this year, but on a walk, I hit the jackpot! Now, I have loads of it to dry for tea this year!

I’ll admit, this walk I had to push myself to do. It is Gnat season here, and they are bad! They seem to have about a 2 week run of just being awful and this walk was me against the bugs. The view, however, was very pretty on this muggy “almost Summer” day.