Learning to Biscuit and Other Things

Like many things I try out here, often some just don’t go as planned. Currently that would include my garden full of green tomatoes which leaves me wondering if I will have a lot of pickled green tomatoes or maybe get lucky and end  up with loads of sauce. Should have planted earlier! Everything is behind, it’s also been a strange weather Summer. Everywhere.

Biscuits are another thing they don’t go like planned, for me. I’ve never been a biscuit maker, but I’ve always been a biscuit maker wanna be. Mind tend to turn out like little hockey pucks. These biscuits are the culmination of 3 previous failures. Each one was a little bit less of a fail then the time before, and this time they are cheesy, buttery and downright passable. Seems to me if the pioneers could make biscuits, on the trail, beside their covered wagons, that I should be able to make a biscuits in my kitchen, and so, I will keep working at my biscuit technique till I conquer the biscuit by making an amazing, flaky delicious biscuit!

What else is going on around the farm and in the kitchen…

This is Jewelweed.

These are Jewelweed ice cubes made from fresh Jewelweed steeped in water, then frozen into cubes for minor burns and stings.

This is chopped Jewelweed after it has infused in oil.

This is Jewelweed salve. It is good for skin irritations, poison ivy and more. It was made by adding some beeswax to the infused oil. I have been thinking about Winter gift giving and this is one of the items I will be gifting.

Here is another project I am working on for gift giving. I am hoping to make quite a few table runners by Winter gift giving time. I am also working on knitting scarves. I never got past the scarf stage of knitting, but what the heck, people need scarves right?

And back in the garden…

Our potato buckets worked well this year. Next year I would like to do a very long row of buckets. The buckets help reduce pests and to harvest the potatoes, you literally kick the bucket over and this is what you find.

Some of them were huge!!!

The grapes this year are coming in oddly. Some are ready on a bunch and some aren’t while some are dried and falling off. This meant that picking could not be by the bunch as I usually do, but picked one grape at a time. Our orchard is not a big one, so this is possible to do, but more time consuming then the other method, so it was nice that I had help this day!

These beautiful grapes went in the freezer for a future batch of Mead, which is a honey wine. Our honey on the farm isn’t quite ready so I will keep these in the freezer until we get our honey and then start a batch.

The Elderberries are producing huge clusters of berries.

These Elderberries will become Elderberry Liquor…

This year I am making a lot of Elderberry Liquor. More Winter gift giving ideas. At this point this bottle is just vodka, a bit of lemon peel and elderberries. It will eventually be strained and sugar will be added. This and time will yield a delicious Elderberry Liquor.

The kitchen has been busy. Since the tomatoes are coming in not in huge loads, just 5-10 at a time, I have been making small pots of sauce, and freezing rather than processing boxes of them at once. I sure hope eventually I will be processing a lot. Here on the stove I have a beef mushroom soup going with our shiitakes, and broth from our beef bones, a tomato basil garlic soup, all from the garden, and a pasta sauce with our ground beef, tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms and onions. The stove is always working overtime this time of year.

As much as I try, our meals still in some way include some food that we didn’t grow, raise, or forage. This meal here though was collards, potatoes, and beans from our garden, and ham from our hogs with some high bush cranberry jelly on top, from last year’s high bush cranberries. Only the olive oil and was not from our farm! Score!

I am grateful every single day that I can do this, and that I can be surrounded with such beauty in my life. This basket of Elderberry, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Echinacea, Chamomile, Cherry tomatoes, Lavender, and Mint was from a short morning walk.



What I learned from my tunnel garden, again.


What I learned from my tunnel garden this year is the same as what I learned last year. Plant earlier! I planted earlier than I did the year before but still not early enough. These goodies could have been much bigger, on the other hand the tiny carrots couldn’t have been cuter and tasted so sweet. It got too cold for it just before Christmas, so I pulled most of it out. It makes me realize that this really does work for us though. We extended the season for 3 months. I do have to get the timing right. I will start the tunnel August 1 next year. At that time of year the plastic is off the hoop and we wait to put it back on till about October. It is a very tiny space so I want to grow things that will have the most impact for us, so for this reason I will be filling almost half of the space with carrots, and most of the other half with Spinach (because it’s so hardy and good) and fill in the rest with Watermelon Radishes. The ones in the picture here, never had a chance to get big enough, but they can get very large, are delicious, and so pretty inside! Kale is also hardy and more so than Spinach but the system I have set up is such that I can not plant things that grow higher than about 18 inches. When it is really cold I pull the second layer of plastic over the plants, so they can not be too tall. (See the previous entry with photos of our tiny but mighty high tunnel.) It truly was fun to go out to the tunnel, in the cold and the snow and walk inside and smell dirt and see such pretty greens. The funny thing is that after the little harvest, the Spinach started sprouting back up again, when it got above about 20 degrees outside for a handful of days in a row, so who knows what may happen in there, maybe I will get some surprises.


We have been enjoying some beautiful snowfalls.


We had a wonderful family Christmas with our in-town family. Relaxing, delicious, and filled with thoughtful gifts that will keep us warm, well read, and fed.


This year we didn’t put up a tree. I instead decorated my antique plant drying rack. I thought it was quite pretty, I think my family thought it was pretty, but not a tree. Next year I think we will have a tree, but this was fun to me. The ornaments hanging were mostly made by the kids and grands, with a few baby’s first ornaments included.


The holidays equal cookies. While these cookies seem perhaps not as fancy as many Christmas cookies, they are the best butter cookies ever. The recipe was given to all attending my friend’s Mother’s service, at a small local church in a valley a few miles from here. The cookies were something she made for her family frequently. After the service the Pastor said, “You are all invited downstairs for Butter Cookies and Fellowship”. I like that there is a story that goes with these cookies.


Our Holiday meal included a root veggie platter of bartered potatoes and onions, a gifted acorn squash, and our garlic, carrots, sage and rosemary, and a few organic sweet potatoes from the quick sell basket at our local market.


It also included a standing rib roast from our Grass fed Highland Cattle. Here it is going into the oven, for one reason or another we didn’t get an after picture, maybe too busy eating?


This was a tradition at my Husband’s family Christmas. Now his folks are snowbirds, and each year since Hubby has brought up the yummy Chocolate Steamed Pudding from his family Christmas, so last year after Christmas I decided I would get the pan and make it for him this year. Chocolate Steamed pudding with Hard Sauce. One cousin calls it heart attack sauce, but we all agree that once a year you have to say to heck with that and bring on Tradition! It was delicious, and insanely rich.

Other than holiday things….


I first true successes with Kombucha. I have a very active fruit and honey ferment and I will try to do a second ferment w my kombucha you see here, and see if I can get some fizz this time! Scoby looks happy and healthy so far!


I finally gathered all the peppers that were drying in the downstairs room. I didn’t realize I even had this many. I gifted some and still have a lot. I am looking forward to learning more about cooking with them, but in a way where the hot tastes good but doesn’t overtake it all. Haven’t learned that art yet. I wanted to thread them onto long strings but I unfortunately waited and now they are so dry, I don’t think it would work well. Just another reminder that timing matters.


Last year I made a table runner for my West Coast daughter. This year I made place mats for my in-town daughter and her fiance. I was pleased with how they turned out. It is fun, and I love that the fabrics are either from our old sheets and clothes or from St. Vinnie’s, where they have huge pieces of fabric for $1-3. It definitely is the store I buy at most frequently for kitchen items, books, warm winter shirts for layering, canning jars and more. I never know what I will find there, but it is always fun exploring.