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harvesting and eating!

 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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I am going to challenge myself to eat as much as possible things that are not store-bought! My basic set-up is a backyard garden, fruit trees that might not bear as frost nipped the flowers, a tiny flock of chickens, 2 new bee hives (will not produce honey this year), and the ability to fish in nearby park lakes.

There will not be much right now as it is VERY early spring, but there will be asparagus tonight.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes! I have been trying to do this also, to have at least one thing from the garden each day - usually we manage to have several.

We tried sauteed Prickly Pear Cactus pads last night and they got a "yuck" from my husband. He's willing to try just about anything I put in front of him, but I don't demand that he finish the serving, just taste it.
 
Terri Matthews
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What does cactus taste like? Or did it have a slimy texture? I have never had it!
 
Su Ba
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Terri, that's super! Little baby steps in the beginning can grow into giant leaps in the future. But we all have to start somewhere, somehow. It has taken me years, but we now produce, forage, or trade for over 90% of the food we eat. It has been interesting and challenging along the way, but now it has also very satisfying. The process has really grounded me in the process of nature. I'm sure you'll have grand adventures too as you learn to produce your own foods.

Tyler, i don't think I'd like sautéed nopales either. We prefer to boil them first, rinse well, then cool them in the frig. Then I'll bring them out for various dishes, either dicing them or cutting them into thin stripes. I'll add them to frittatas, tacos, mixed salads, stir fries, green chile stews, and some curry type dishes. We don't eat them very often since we don't have very many plants, but they're a nice change of pace from time to time. But I wouldn't want to make them a staple.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The cactus pads have a slightly sour green taste. I blanched and cooled them, sliced them, then sauteed them in a little oil. I ended up adding them to the curry we were having as our main dish, my portion of curry anyway - my husband wouldn't eat them, so I ate his. We have tons of cactus, so I'd like to figure out some good ways to use them, as they're easy to grow and harvest.

 
James Everett
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Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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some day this is my plan as well. This is my first year to truly be on my land. I have plenty of mesquites on the land. Found out i have some soap berries for laundry and dish soaps if I figure that out. planted maples, oaks, and apples so far but many to go. I just bought a laser level so plan to go map me some contours to get dug out on my land. doing what i can while trying to pay off lawyer bills and truck. so next 4 years will be slow to go but after that hopefully i can get more done.
 
Rue Barbie
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We're also trying to eat as much as possible from the garden. We'll never be self sustaining for several reasons, but we can do pretty well - close to a 12 month growing season helps. Biggest problem is water,... and we're not vegetarian, and no animals.

The past couple weeks we've eaten chard, kale, summer squash, winter squash (stored from last summer), Chinese peas, green beans, blueberries, bok choi, beets, spigiarella, chili peppers (frozen from last summer)... Gosh, I didn't realize there was so much, and it's still early!
 
Terri Matthews
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Today I got some kale to add to the salad from a plant that overwintered. I planted some kale seedlings but rabbits ate some of them: hopefully the remainder will prosper!
I also took 2 of the chicken's eggs and made cornbread with chopped onions and ham: I am HOPING it will taste like hushpuppies with ham in them!
 
Terri Matthews
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Other than leftover cornbread, there is nothing from outside for dinner. It is just too early in the year for a lot of harvested veggies!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Little steps!

Last night I actually managed to make something tasty using cactus pads. I made fritters, based on a recipe for Indian Pakoras. Two thirds chopped blanched pads to one third chopped native onion with food processed cooked store chickpeas, a little cumin, a homegrown egg and enough water to make a batter, and fried. I think I'll try baking them next time, as the frying took too much time and store oil. I might bake them and then finish in the cast iron pan with a little butter or olive oil (both store items).
 
Terri Matthews
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Tonight we had a stir fry. From my land I added 1 egg, 4 stalks of asparagus, and 5 green onions. From my kitchen I got some celery and some leftover roast beef an some rice.

It tastes pretty darned good!
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Terri Matthews wrote:What does cactus taste like? Or did it have a slimy texture? I have never had it!
The ones I've purchased at the store to try as a novelty [cactus doesn't grow here unless one very carefully manipulates the drainage beneath it to protect the roots from water] had a taste reminiscent of green pepper.
 
Terri Matthews
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It has been a few days, hasn't it!

Well, this time of year what is available to me is MOSTLY asparagus and eggs, and I have been eating both. In fact I will have asparagus at lunch today. The asparagus has asparagus beetle eggs on it but I just washed off what I could and trimmed off the stubborn few. Not that they would hurt me but they do not look appetizing. http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/asparagus-beetles/
 
Terri Matthews
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I haven't been well, so my meals have bee BEYOND simple: I just take something from the fridge or the freezer and I put it in the oven and hit "ON"! Sometimes I DO love modern conveniences!

I did walk into the garden today and I saw that the chard plant that overwintered could be picked, so I got some of that. I ALSO saw that the radish bulbs were starting to swell, so in a week or so we will have radishes. It is till to early to harvest much else: not in THIS climate!

The fruit trees have just finished blooming but the blossoms are mostly falling from the trees leaving nothing behind. Late freezes destroyed the tender young blooms and thunderstorms stopped the bees from flying. This is why Kansas is not famous for fruit production like Washington is! It can be 80 degrees one day and below zero the next: I have seen it. Grain does not mind but it is hard on flowers!

At any rate, what I was GOING to say is that I was spraying what fruit there was when I got a facefull of insect spray. Fortunately I was using an organic spray that was made of essensial oils so it will do me no harm. I am not strongly organic: I prefer the organics but if I am having a problem I will use chemicals. After todays surprise facefull, courtesy of a gust of wind, I am glad I was using organics!

Later!
 
John Weiland
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Just wanted to add this inspirational video link and story....from way north of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

 
Terri Matthews
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Humpf.

Things are not going as I had planned. Back when I planted my seedlings they were the only green things in the garden, and think that was why the seedlings of the cabbage family were eaten! I am down to 1 broccoli and 2 cabbage plants! This out of 16 seedlings.

So, my spring time harvests will remain kale and green onions and eggs, plus a few radishes have grown large enough to eat. I did have asparagus but it was not a great asparagus year and it looks like it has finished already.
It is true the fish are starting to bite, but I have not had time to go to the lake yet. Perhaps this week I will get down there! I do not know what seasonal foods people in the Midwest USED to eat, but what is available to me is only greens and eggs and fish. And, before dams were put in I think only a few people had access to fish.

During the Great Depression, back when sometimes a bum would snatch a hen, the owner must he been livid! It would not just be the loss of the chicken: those chickens would have brought a very valued change in diet! Instead of just eating meat, greens, and bread those birds would have made it possible to have cakes, cookies, omelets, and a host of other good foods!

t any rate it looks like my spring harvests will only be kale, green onions, radishes, and eggs day in and day out. By now I had hoped for some cabbage dishes, but I want to let the cabbages get bigger. I generally cut my cabbages one leaf at time over the course of the summer, but with 2 smallish plants that does not get me much: I will wait until the plants are large enough to harvest a handful at a time. THEN I can make cole slaw about once a week!

 
Terri Matthews
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I planted more cabbage but it will be a long time before they are large enough to pick. Still, I am now getting other produce.

Dinner tonight will be ham and sweet potatos from the store. I will make deviled eggs from the eggs I have gathered, and the salad tonight will include cabbage, kale, radish, and green onions from outside. And, for dessert, I have 15 strawberries I will cut up and sprinkle with sugar and let sit until they are juicy. Most nights there are just the 2 of us, so 15 berries are enough for a small dessert!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Homegrown strawberries sound like heaven!
 
Terri Matthews
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They taste like heaven too!

DH will be pleased!
 
Hal Hurst
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Terri- about cooking prickly pear leaves (nopalitos) The way my friend from Zacatecas Mexico showed me is this: preferably choose young tender leaves that have not finished growing out and getting fat- (about 1/4 inch thick instead of 1/2" thick in a mature leaf) but this will work with other leaves as well. Place the leaves in the flames of a campfire for a few seconds to burn off the spines, then wash them with water and a soft cloth. Slice them thin- like french cut green beans. Boil them in some water for 10 minutes, and discard the water. Boil them in some fresh water again, and repeat if necessary to get out the viscous sap. When they are tender, serve them as if they were green beans, which they resemble in taste and texture. I like some butter and salt, maybe a bit of garlic. She serves them mixed with cooked onions and some kind of meat, with chiles, etc.
 
Terri Matthews
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Yesterday we finished the garden salad, and today there is not enough out there to harvest. But I do not mind a BIT because the sugar peas are blooming! By this time next week there will be sugar peas to put in the salad.

And, the forager bees are again coming and going from a beehive I have that was in trouble: last weekend I noticed that the bees were no longer going out to forage and so I knew the hive was in trouble. I opened it up and I saw they were without a queen. I ALSO saw that they had built a queen cell, so they were trying to raise up a new queen. Well, today they are again coming and going so I am pretty sure that queen is at or near hatching. Hopefully she will have her mating flight without a bird catching her and eating her!!

So I am going to grow things more before I harvest more. I did get an egg, though.
 
Terri Matthews
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Last night I had 3 crappie from a local lake, garden salad, and I took a pie out of the freezer as there are not much calories in fish!

It was delicious.

My husband does NOT like small fish, and so I froze the 4 remaining crappie and I thawed him out some cod: he was pleased!
 
Nicole Alderman
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I've been trying to do this more, too, though being pregnant with food aversions doesn't help. Due to pretty much not having a winter, spring came really early, so we've been eating salmonberries for weeks. I really need to go out there and pick another half gallon of them and make more smoothies to use up the blackberries I picked and froze last year. I'm rather sick of salmonberries now, but thankfully my toddler still loves them. We also get a palm full of wild strawberries a day, and red huckleberries are coming in season. And, we get about two tiny peas a day.

We also have had nettle for probably two months. Mmm, nettle. I love the stuff and need to harvest it more! I just usually forget, and I don't want to risk overdosing on it while pregnant. We also have chives, which we all love and I've been planting more because I'm always afraid of overharvesting them, and we would eat handfulls a day if we could. There's not much chance of them reseeding as my toddler picks and eats any flower heads he can find!

We also have daikon radishes, which I don't like, but my husband does. Since they grow and reseed well here, I planted a LOT of them. So, we've been eating radish leaves and radish "broccoli" for like two months. I force myself to eat a few bites a day, but that's as much as I can do. Most every day, I pick and make a salad for my husband, with herbs and leaves from our garden. It usually consists of some mixture of: daikon radish leaves/florets, mint, lovage, burnet, lemon balm, chives, pansy flowers, siberian miner's lettuce, sheep sorrel, salmonberries, and parsley.

There's a lot out there that I really need to just get out and harvest and eat more often, like the dandelions that fill the lawn (my son loves the flowers, but none of us eat/make tea from the roots, even though we like it and it's good for us). But, since I actually have to go inside to cook them, I just don't get around to it. Unlike with the berries and peas and chives--those get picked gleefully every day while I'm out gardening and playing with my son.

Any one have delicious recipes for daikon radish and dandelion roots that will encourage me to go eat these things?

Edit: Oh, and we have ducks, so we also get "eggs." For some reason our nine ducks of laying eggs and gender lay us maybe an egg a day. I'd upped their feed, they started laying...and then they pretty much stopped. It's been weeks. At this point, I just can't care anymore. I'm just going to keep feeding them for their manure, and their slug and spider eating powers. Maybe one day they'll start laying again.
 
Terri Matthews
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Nicole, can you share your recipe for nettles? I confess, I have never had the nerve to try them, though it is possible that I have some! I have never googled pic of nettles to be sure, simply because I did not have the nerve to eat them anyways!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Sure! I pretty much only have one recipe, though I did once make a nettle pesto/soup concoction that was pretty good. Here's a link to a permies thread with nettle recipes: http://www.permies.com/t/44253/cooking/kitchen/Seeking-nettle-recipes. Usually what I do when I get nettle is make chips, which seem to be pretty forgiving and can be made at least three ways. First I get a colander full of nettle leaves (for it me, it doesn't seem to matter flavor/texture wise whether I harvest them early in the season or after they flower). Then I either,

(1) Nettle Chips in a Cooking Pot:

Ingredients:

X About 5-6 loose cups of nettle (colander full)
X 1 Tbsp butter or duck fat or coconut oil or butter or other oil

Procedure:

Put butter or other oil in a wide-bottomed pot on medium low. Once the butter is melted, I put the nettle in and stir with tongs until they are coated. I continue to come back and stir the leaves every few minutes until they are crispy. It usually takes about 20 minutes (less time if I forgot about the nettle in the colander for a few hours and they started dehydrating by themselves). Once they're crispy, I turn it to low until I'm ready to eat them, and then add a dash of salt. (This seems to be the easiest and most forgiving method, though sometimes not all the nettle gets crispy and some of them are soft but still yummy)


(2) Nettle Chips in a Frying Pan:

Ingredients:

X Around 20 nettle leaves, or about 1 loose cup
X 1 Tsp butter or duck fat or coconut oil

Procedure:

Using any size skillet or pot (medium or bigger), add butter to said skillet/pot. Allow butter to melt on medium low. Carefully (so as not to sting oneself) add nettle to cooking vessel. Cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. Nettle will be dark green and crunchy. Eat IT!!! (Since you're working in smaller batches, it's easier to make sure they are all constantly crispy, though this method is more intensive since to get the same amount of chips as in method 1 & 3, you have to do multiple batches).



(3) Nettle Chips in an Oven:

Ingredients:

X About 5-6 loose cups of nettle (colander full)
X 1 tbsp of butter or duck fat or coconut oil

Procedure:

Turn oven to 200 degrees (at least I think this is the temp I used--it's been half a year!). Coat a cookie tray with oil of choice. Dump nettle leaves on cookie sheet and toss them with tongs or other implements to coat them all with cooking fat. You can salt &/or season them at this point, too, or wait until they're done cooking. Place tray in oven and bake until the nettle turns crispie, about 10 minutes. Enjoy! (This one is easier to make a lot of chips by, but it's easy to over cook them and make them a little too crunchy, almost "glassy" in mouth feel)
 
Terri Matthews
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Thanks!

DH wed whacked yesterday, but when I see leaves again I shall compare them to some google pictures, and then we shall see!
tonight I shall make veggie pizza, which is a favorite of mine. I will likely rummage in the fridge for that stub of leftover ham for half the pizza as DH likes his meat.

From outside will be kale, onions, and oregano

From inside will be flour, cheese, ham, and sauce.

For dessert we will have sugared strawberries and there will be mint tea to drink with the pizza: berries and mint are from outside. And, I ate a radish, just because I could.

This is a far cry from last month, when I was lucky to get a fistful of kale once a week!

Lastly, in an earlier post I mentioned I have a bee hive that was struggling: they now look much better, which means the queen will have hatched. Bees NEED either brood or a queen to look after, or they sulk and have no purpose in life. Bee experts say that queens give off a hormone that tells the bees to get to work.
 
Terri Matthews
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No harvesting this week! Someone at the hardware store told me that our area had been declared a disaster zone, due to the weather: I do not know if it is true. I have been too busy cleaning up the mess from the rain to watch the news all the way through!

All it was was 4 inches of rain falling on soil that was already saturated. It did make a mess: we keep pumping the basement every time the basement floods but it STINKS in this house! Ah, well.

It strikes me that in a hunter gatherer society it would be a virtue to go out and hunt and/or gather when the weather was bad, but I was pleased to stay in and only venture out when the rain lightened up! I can see from a distance that my sour cherry tree is coloring up, but I haven't stayed outside long enough to harvest a darned thing! Because, when the rain finally DID lighten up I pumped water, the pump stopped, I bought another pump, the set up confused me, DH got home from work and told me the pump was clogged so I should return the pump I bought ( but I might have a use for it). then DH pumped more water but then more water came in..... etc.

I did gather 2 -3 eggs: no matter what the weather does the birds keep laying! That alone would make farming more attractive than hunter-gathering!

On tap for today: I will keep pumping as needed as the saturated soil is sending water up the drain in the basement. Mow because the lawn police will NOT give us a break just for rain! Clean up the kitchen as every flat surface has something on it, and vacuum and clean as it has not been done for days and it shows.

And ignore the ladder on the living room floor.

Don't ask.

The sun is shining and I WANT to weed and get to know the garden again, maybe pick some greens and see what more has come up, but I will act like an adult and continue to clean up the mess.

UGH!
 
Terri Matthews
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I forgot to say that my bee equipment thief is back! This is the second time they have hit: the first time they took some elderly bee boxes I was using as a table. I would have given them away had anybody asked, but I suppose that is not the way a thief thinks

THIS time they apparently did not realize my bees had arrived and they went to carry out a box that was an active hive!

I think they got stung, as they ended up dropping the box of bees and he or she left. A modern, well bred bee has no interest in stinging people, but if they think you are bothering their youngsters (or their honey) they *DO* react, just like a human would react to a kidnapper or a burgler! And picking up their home, youngsters and all, and carrying it off does qualify as bothering their youngsters! At any rate The frames of bees were left open to the weather, but fortunately the weather was not cold and the bees survived!

I have delayed moving my bees to a safer place because of weather, but that needs to be done ASAP!
 
Terri Matthews
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Wow, that was good.

Once a month I am o high-dose prednisone, which makes my Multiple Sclerosis go into remission but the prednisone means I can only eat in tiny amounts. Well, I have finished the prednisone and I just had a HUGE salad and a plate full of pasta. It was my first full-sized meal in almost a week and it was AWESOME!

For the salad I went outside and I picked snow peas, a baby onion, and one big leaf of cabbage. From the fridge I added half a bell pepper, a little lettuce, and the home made croutons and home made vinaigrette dressing.

The dressing is a bit of a triumph: I love the sonic dressing but their salads COST! So, this month I sorted through vinaigrette recipes until I figured out what they all had in common.

Every last recipe had vinegar, oil GARLIC, and MUSTARD! Now, I would never have thought to put common yellow mustard in a salad dressing, but it WAS the missing ingredient, and the dressing was perfect!

The croutons were easy: I had tem frozen in zip loc bags in the freezer. imply cut up bread into cubes, toss with melted butt (not too much), and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake until crunch, bag up, and freeze.

I am now sleepy after my big meal, and I am going to lie down.

Good night!
 
Terri Matthews
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My onion project.

Late February I took a good sized pot and I planted it to onion sets, leaving about an inch between them. Then I set the pot on a table next to a south facing window.

They grew, and I took the green onions as I wanted them. When it got warm enough I moved the pot outside and continued to use the onions as I wanted them.

Well, the onion sets have matured and died down, leaving me with slightly LARGER onion sets! They are still good, still tasty. As near as I can figure I got 2.5 months worth of green onions from one big pot of onions. I think I am going to keep it watered, let the onions sprout again, and then use the REST of the onions! Until then I can harvest the onions that are growing in the garden.

I took the last of the green, growing onions in the pot this morning, and cooked up an egg with onion, bell pepper, and cheese. The rest of the onions are dormant.

SO! From my back yard I enjoyed an egg cooked with the green onion, and then the cheese and piece of bell pepper was from my fridge. There is broccoli ready to pick in my garden, which I will eat this week, and by the end of the week I should be able to get a small picking of black raspberries.

I intend to make a small angelfood cake from my backyard eggs, top it with cool whip, and top that with the raspberries. And of course this week I will continue to make my great salads with a bit of store-bought lettuce, and then add the kale, radishes, onions, and snow peas from my back yard. With a home made dressing it will be excellent!
 
Terri Matthews
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I woke up this morning to the TV talking about heat warnings, and to the addresses of cooling stations. Hey it's only June! Cooling stations are generally set up in July and August! THANK you El Nino (NOT!)

I slip outside without even stopping to brush my teeth for a couple of vital things, starting with picking the black raspberries. They are not heavy bearers but I get almost a cup: DS is coming to help around the house (He comes weekly to do anything too heavy for me). and I shall bake a vanilla cake, frost it with Cool Whip, and top that with the raspberries. Dinner will be leftover casserole, another glorious salad made with bought lettuce and garden goodies (lots of sugar peas, kale, bok choi, and a small onion), and deviled eggs from my hens.

The broccoli is starting to produce, but just a little. And, glory of glories, the bush string beans are blooming: in a wee to 10 days we will have string beans by the potfull!

I think I shall update this thread once a week: I can have a great salad almost every night but the other garden goodies are only coming in every few days.

 
Terri Matthews
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Last night's stir fry recipe:

4 pieces of chicken (bought), 2 large bell peppers (bought), onion (from my garden), sugar peas (from my garden), oil, sugar, and soy sauce. I also sweetened the pie cherries rom my tree- half sugar and half NutraSweet- and had it over sugar-free chocolate ice cream.


I have cabbage from my garden waiting to be turned into cole slaw, and I had some of my cabbage in the corned beef and cabbage we had the night before. And, I have REALLY got to get that broccoli picked! Because in a few days the string beans will be bearing.



We really need to be eating vegetables from my garden every day, now, just to keep up with it!

Once the main crops- the cucumber and the bell peppers- start yielding we will start giving produce away.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Terri Matthews wrote: we will start giving produce away.


Excellent!

 
Terri Matthews
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Oh, tonight's meal was GOOOD!

We had garden green beans cooked with a bit of bacon fat, cole slaw from my cabbage, BBQ pork, and something called an "apple kuchen" that is made with cake mix with butter as a bottom layer, chopped apples with sugar an cinnamon as a top layer, and sour cream with 2 egg yolks (from my eggs) drizzled on top.

The kuchen was too sweet for my tastes but otherwise excellent, and everything else was flat out delicious.
 
Amjad Khan
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John Weiland wrote:Just wanted to add this inspirational video link and story....from way north of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


I'm amazed by the interest the children have in gardening. I'm very happy projects like this are being done in Canada. I hope the rest of the world is doing similar things. Thank you for sharing that video John!
 
Amjad Khan
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Terri Matthews wrote:Oh, tonight's meal was GOOOD!

We had garden green beans cooked with a bit of bacon fat, cole slaw from my cabbage, BBQ pork, and something called an "apple kuchen" that is made with cake mix with butter as a bottom layer, chopped apples with sugar an cinnamon as a top layer, and sour cream with 2 egg yolks (from my eggs) drizzled on top.

The kuchen was too sweet for my tastes but otherwise excellent, and everything else was flat out delicious.


Is that a German dish? the 'kuchen' part sounds like some items we had from Germany: Christmas baum kucken, and flam kucken (excuse my incorrect spelling).

Your garden sounds like a very wholesome project for you Terri

 
Terri Matthews
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Yes, I think it*IS* German. My husband really liked it!

I had to look up Baum kucken: what a clever way to make a striped cake! I will have to try it sometime.

Kuchen? Kucken? They might be the same thing, though the recipe I have only has a couple of layers and it is not round.
 
Terri Matthews
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The raccoons are eating my thornless blackberries.

Grump.

The ordinary thorny blackberries would be harder for them to pick and so there will be plenty for us, as the berries are borne higher up, buy the thorny berries bear later than the thornless ones, and they are not yet ripe. We did get a couple of fistfuls, but just a couple. Raccoons like berries as much as we do!

We still have plenty of string beans in the fridge, waiting to be eaten. I think we will stir fry some for the Forth of  July, to eat with the garden cucumbers and the grilled pork chops or burgers or whatever the family chooses to eat.
 
Terri Matthews
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Cucumbers, eggs, and string beans.

Eggs eggs eggs, cucumbers cucumbers, cucumbers: string beans string beans string beans.

That is about EVERYTHING I can say about my small homestead!

I have a BRAND NEW definition of a good farm cook: a good farm cook is someone who can cook a variety of dishes from just a few items, because that way nobody gets bored from the food! Mind, we are NOT bored, but then I can bring food in from the grocery store. I think about out ancestors, who in the winter ate mostly bread and dried foods, and all of a sudden I understand why people valued a great cook who could make jam and dried green beans and know how to make veggies in the root cellar keep!

In the mean time, over the Fourth of July I cooked green beans with bacon fat to give it more flavor, used 3 eggs in a chocolate cake, and BBQ some pork on the grill. Then we went out to watch fireworks, and I got to bed about 1 AM and I was dog-tired!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Yes, that is a major challenge - it seems so difficult to get more than a handful of things to be productive at the same time, so we end up having meals made of the same few things over and over.  This is called, I guess, "eating in season!"
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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