Monday, August 31, 2009
Fall is one of the 2 seasons I love most, the other being spring. I always am amazed at the wide range of colors in the leaves here in our state in the fall. So beautiful to watch them change. Then its time to get set for the cold that follows the fall. Time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your summer labor. Hopefully the garden is all harvested and canned or otherwise preserved. Fall is the time for the hunting season in our area as well. With deer hunting being the highlight of the fall and early winter as well as the fall turkey season. You know you are living the good life when your cellar is full of home canned goodies and the smoke house is full of meat for the winter. That's just the hillbilly way I suppose. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Its getting to be that time of year when you clean up all the summer mess and start getting things ready for colder weather. Well that's what we have been doing here for the past few days on the homestead. Son got the garden stuff mowed down that was done for the season. Also mowed around the buildings on the rental property and sprayed for bugs. Now we need to finish up weed eating and picking up and taking stuff to the burn pile that needs to be disposed of.
Back to the gardening, I still need to weed and mulch the herb bed before everything dies back so I know where it is and maybe get some label stakes made. The beds all need a healthy dose of compost before mulching. The kiwi vines and hops all need attention, along with the grapevines. The chickens rearranged the mulch from the grapes and blueberries when they decided there just might be a worm or bug in there. Next week we will be building a new strawberry bed for all the runners my plants have made. Am thinking of putting black plastic on the ground for a week or so before filling the bed with dirt to kill back the grass that is growing there now. This is the lazy way to rid a place of grass before planting. Then the day the dirt goes in I will add a layer of shredded paper and cardboard to further deter grass and weeds. Then we will mix in some compost and organic fertilizer with the soil and plant the lil runners. And with a little care they should be good next spring.
Last summer and this year I dried some tomatoes with the intention of making sun dried tomatoes in oil. Well today I finally got around to it. They look really good in the jar with basil and minced garlic covered in olive oil. After about a week they should make a tasty pasta sauce. Also tried my hand at making herb vinegar. First test was with tarragon. Pick the fresh herb after the dew drys off and chop coarsely. Pack into a wide mouth quart jar and add hot white wine vinegar to cover. Let stand for a few weeks to get the desired strength. Then strain into a clean bottle that you have placed a stem of the herb in. Store in cool dark place and use in dressings and marinades. Maybe I will make a mixed herb vinegar just for interest.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Repeat the above layering process until you're nearly at the top of the jar (don't over stuff the jar because your last step includes filling the jar with olive oil). Finally, fill the jar with the layered tomatoes with olive oil, making sure that the tomatoes are completely submerged. Screw on the lid tightly and store the jar in a cool, dark, closet or cupboard.
You'll need to let the tomatoes sit
6-8 days before consuming them
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Well another one of those over did it scenes again. For some reason when we plant our garden, I just don't know when to stop planting seeds. I always plant more than I need of everything. This year was a little different in the respect that the garden didn't do so well with all the weather we had. Was in the garden this evening to pick the last of the sweet corn (the lil short kind) and decided it was time to get the cushaws out too. These were an heirloom variety from a friend that had saved the seed.The vines were dead so that's usually a good time to pick. They have done really well all things considered. Not sure what I will do with all of them but some will be chicken feed. I remember my dad chopping up cushaws to feed the hogs and chickens when I was younger. We still have the sweet potatoes in the garden along with some peppers, cantaloupes, watermelons and the corn for corn meal. The rest of the garden will be mowed down probably tomorrow. Good thing my gourds are safely hidden in the corn or they would meet their demise as well.
So I am off to put the corn in the freezer before bedtime. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Had to be away from the farm for a bit today and before leaving went ahead and turned the chickens out to forage. Wasn't gone long, came home and checked on them to find all was well and they did just fine without my help. Came inside for a couple hours to do some things. Went out later to close the chicken house up for the night and all the birds were inside looking concerned. In the lower end of the yard was one bird that something had killed and partially eaten. They are very close to the house and we have no idea what killed this bird. But some very brave and stupid critter to get that close. I will still let them out again tomorrow but will be more watchful. I should be outside most of the day any way. Need to do some cleanup around the place. We are supposed to have some pleasant temps for several days. So maybe without the extreme heat I can get more done. We shall see. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead
canning/ roasted marinated red pappers
18 to 20 large red bell peppers
Carefully (hot oil...duh) fill each jar with oil mixture leaving 1/2 in headspace. Wipe jar rims clean to remove any traces of oil. Cap seal and process in hot water bath for 20 min. Let flavors marry for 14 days before using.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The garden thinks fall has arrived and its time to make seed and reproduce, with the cooler temps and cloudy days. So that is going to make the harvest even shorter. Our garden is about done anyway but there are a few folks that got a late start. And sadly may not see a harvest at all.
Now is the time to start planning for new beds for all the stuff I dream of planting. Things to expand, new stuff to try and tinker with a few new methods as well. If farming and gardening is in your blood like it is mine, then as soon as one garden is done you have pen in hand planning the next one. These days you don't have to wait till winter to get seed catalogs in the mail, you can find all them online. Then place your order and wait with anticipation like a kid at Christmas time till that package arrives in the spring. And the enthusiasm returns to get out and dig in the dirt. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Irish potatoes are a flop due to many factors but the sweet potatoes are promising so far. After the discouraging dig in the Irish potatoes and no size or turn out we decided to check and see how the sweet potatoes were coming along. So far it looks like they are going to be really good and big too. They still have about a month and a half to grow before they are done and we dig them for storage in the root cellar. We only dug in the pink ones so far and they are good so the white ones hopefully did as well or better. We prefer the white sweet taters over any other. On the homestead we are divided on which potato fork to use when digging taters and which is easier. I still prefer the one on the left as that I is the one I grew up using. The other one is used like a spade and to me is harder to use. I still like the old ways better.
Not much else happening on the homestead today, other than made a decision to put the remaining tomatillos in the freezer to use in soup and green pork that an online friend sent me a recipe for. Still have lots of red bell peppers to put up in some fashion. Maybe one decision a day is enough so I will leave that one till tomorrow. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Well I guess I knew the fencing would have to be done as soon as the chickens figured out that the dirt under the grape vines made a good place to dust. They were digging holes as chickens will do and eating the leaves. We dragged out the deer netting that we had used around the garden last year and run it around the post supporting the grape vines. Also had to make a round for the onion and asparagus bed so they wouldn't scratch all those up. Just a minor project that had to be done. The chickens are doing a good job of getting rid of bugs and insects in the yard. And most of them have learned to like being outside. The young roosters are still learning how to crow and they are so funny. This is probably the most friendly flock of birds I have had in a long time. They will eat from your hand. I did get to sit for a bit and play with them.
Then this evening it was on to the garden to dig potatoes. We had a huge problem with Colorado potato beetles this year and they ate the vines to twigs. And if the potatoes don't have leaves and stems they don't produce food to store in the form of potatoes. As we started digging the Kennebecs in a 50 ft row we maybe got a half bushel and it should have made 2 bushels or so. The red Pontiac are some better as they did not get eaten as bad. The weather this year handicapped us in the fact that it was so muddy and soft in the garden we could not go in to get the bugs off or spray for them, so they wrecked havoc on the plants. Just another learning experience I think. We will have to see what we can do different next year if weather permits. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Monday, August 17, 2009
After all the rain and wet weather we have had this summer and low production of the garden I am still planting and hoping for something better. The temps have been in the high 90's for a few weeks now. On Saturday we got some ground plowed up and I sowed more mustard and turnips for greens and a row of beets. Then today after pulling out the tomatillo plants from the herb bed I sowed some lettuce and some more parsley. I planted parsley 3 times this spring and it didn't come up either time. And I do use a lot of dried parsley in cooking. I just thought it may be nice to have some late lettuce for salads this fall. Guess I am trying real hard to make summer last as long as possible.
The heat here is almost unbearable this time of year with all the humidity. We did get a little sprinkle of rain this morning. Maybe that will encourage my greens and beets to sprout and grow. I like pickled beets with pinto beans and cornbread. And my spring crop was surely nothing to write home about.
My chickens are growing and look so pretty and healthy. The black australorps are really gentle and calm. Wont be long till they should start laying. The dark Cornish are pretty birds, very docile as well. With 51 birds in the building, I am thinking it wont be long before we have to do some butchering. At this point I would much rather sell the black australorps to someone for layers than to butcher them. They would make someone a good flock of layers. When I ordered my dark Cornish from the hatchery they sent me one free bird with my order. Well turns out it is a lil bantam of some sort, but he sure is a cute little fellow. And it is so funny to hear him crow, he sounds like he is choking on something. I have been letting the birds all run out during the day when I know I am going to be home all day or at least around the house, and they love it. Although there is no mulch left under my grapevines in the yard. But I wont have to fertilize any in the backyard this fall. It is so relaxing to watch the chickens wander about and find contentment in the little tidbit of food or an insect they dig up. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Friday, August 14, 2009
First is Hot Sauce
72 hot red peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons grated horseradish
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
Combine peppers and garlic in saucepan with the water, cover and cook till soft. Press through a sieve. Put in saucepan with other ingredients and simmer till well blended and thickened. Ladle into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. Put on cap and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. This recipe will make 1/2 to 1 pint depending on how thick you prefer your hot sauce.
Baked beans to can
4 cups navy beans
1/2 lb salt pork or bacon, cut in small pieces
4 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons molasses
6 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 cups catsup
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups chopped onion
Wash beans thoroughly and cover with fresh cold water and soak over night.
Boil in the same water for 45 minutes.
Drain beans saving the water. Add other ingredients to beans with 2 cups of the cooking water. Stir well and pack into hot jars to within 1 inch of the top. Put on cap and process in pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure, 60 minutes for pints or quarts. Makes 8 pints.
Enjoy! Till next time blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The day started early for me today. I had prepped a lot of stuff that had to be canned and thought I may as well get an early start before it got really hot outside. When you harvest a large variety of veggies to process it take a goo d bit of time to get all the recipes made and in jars. That was the dilemma yesterday and today. Finished up canning the pinto bean soup, baked beans and chili beans today. I took a good look at one of the jars of pinto beans and the lid looked odd. Then I figured out that I had put the flat wrong side up on the jar. Thas a first! Made me feel like an idget. But all the jars have sealed and now the problem of where to store them till we get the root cellar completed. They are all still sitting along the kitchen counter. We are gettin a little crowded here. With a total for 2 days of 5 qts of tomato juice, 3 pts jalapenos pickled, 3 pts banana peppers pickled, 12 pts of tomatillo salsa, 14 qts pinto bean soup, 3 qts and 1 pt of bell peppers pickled, 14 pts baked beans, 11 pts chili beans. Plus 2 gallon zip top bags of red cabbage in the freezer for soup and 2 gallon zip top bags of chunked carrots.Think I will just relax tomorrow and soak my feet. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Enjoy! Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
5 cups chopped tomatillos
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Well tomorrow is going to be busy for me. We picked more tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, squash, and a few cukes, tomatillos, red cabbage and dug some potaotes. Made some tomato juice today, 6 quarts to be exact, and there are more tomatoes to use tomorrow in something. The bell peppers are starting to ripen and get red. Maybe I will can some of those. Our carrots were beginning to die back so we pulled all of them this evening, and they were much bigger than I had anticipated. I am very pleased with them. The remaining onions were also pulled as the tops had died on those as well.
I took a good look at my pumpkins when I noticed the vines were looking sorta wimpy. The vines had rotted near the pumpkin so those were brought in too. The same thing happened with my butternut squash. They didn't produce like they normally do, lots a flowers but not much fruit. The bees just couldn't work the flowers with all the rain we have had this summer. Guess they don't like working in the rain and mud either.
The one thing I do have enough of is tomatillos. Picked another half bushel of those this evening too. More salsa to be made soon.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Took the weekend off to visit my youngest son Rob and his girlfriend Amoy and go wander around the 127 yard sale for a day. That is an event to attend if you ever get the chance. Made a stop at one store and they had posted a map of the United States and was asking people to stick a pin in their town. There were pins in at least 30 of the continental states. Did find a few bargains and one item I had been looking for. We found a hand tobacco trans planter and bought it without question. Also bought a few other things that were maybe not really necessary but I thought they were at the time. Ah the fun of yardsaling.
Got back home this afternoon and had the spiced red cabbage to finish and get canned. Smells really good, cant wait to try it. Looks really pretty in the jars too. The cabbage takes a while to complete. You shred 3 large heads of red cabbage, layer in a large container and sprinkle each layer with salt then let sit for 12 hours. Drain well for at least 6 hours. Pack cabbage in hot jars and make pickling solution. To make solution make a spice bag with 1/4 cup mustard seed, 1/4 cup allspice, 1/4 cup peppercorns, 1/4 cup whole cloves, 1/4 cup celery seed tie the bag and put in kettle to which you have added 2 quarts of vinegar and 1 cup brown sugar. Boil this mixture for 5 minutes and remove spice bag. Pour liquid over cabbage in jars to within 1/4 inch of top of jar. Put on lids and bands and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes for quarts. Seal.
I haven't tried this yet but some recipes follow up with the fact that you can drain cabbage and add mayo and serve like coleslaw as a side dish. Sounds really good and a pleasant twist on slaw.
So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I hope its true that hard work never hurt anyone, because canning is hard work. That is unless you have free help. I got all the cabbage harvested today and cleaned and ready to shred for kraut and the red ones were shredded to make spiced red cabbage. I have a new mandolin for slicing and shredding veggies but there is just something sentimental about doing it the old way. This particular "cabbage cutter" as we call it has been in my family for 3 generations now and today the 4th generation got to try his hand at shredding cabbage. After Jason took the blades off the shredder and sharpened them, this thing cut like brand new. It makes perfect shreds and we both still have all our fingers, skin included. The recipe for kraut is 1 lb of canning salt per 50 lb of shredded cabbage. I had about 25 lb which is not much but it filled 3 of the 12 qt dishpans and then we managed to fit it all in 1 fermenting crock. It must be packed till the juices flow and covers the top of the cabbage by a few inches. These crocks are quite expensive but worth the money if you ferment veggies. The crock is packed tight and full of salted cabbage and we wait for the fermentation process to finish which may take a few weeks. All the cleanup is done now so its on to the next project.
I also got more tomato juice made today and it has been canned. I only made 6 qts and 1 pt today. But little by little I will replenish what was used last year.
We went back to the garden after supper and picked the ripe tomatoes and a few more zucchini. The cukes are done for the most part. We do have some bell peppers that are starting to get red and I hope to experiment and maybe can some roasted red peppers. Think those will be good when there is a snow on the ground this winter. Just a little taste of summer in the cold. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
This is the best recipe by far for banana nut bread and very easy and cheap to make. As you can tell from the photo it didn't last long at my house. So good I thought I would share the recipe for you to try. I doubled the recipe to use the naners I had.
Banana Nut Bread
3 ripe bananas well mashed 1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs well beaten 1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
3/4 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 and grease 1 loaf standard loaf pan. Beat the bananas and eggs together in a large bowl, Stir in flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and vanilla extract. Mix well. Stir in chopped nuts and pour into loaf pan and bake 1 hour. It will be a little dark in color, but if you think it will get too dark, reduce temp to 300 for last 20 minutes or so. Turn out and serve warm or cold as you like.
Enjoy and till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Our area of Kentucky has had t-storms all day and lots of rain. I was sitting on the front porch after the rain let up a bit and noticed leaves in the yard. The poplar trees are starting to lose their leaves already. Kinda early for them I think. There is a cool breeze blowing from the storms and you can just feel fall in the air. We still should have the dog days of summer to contend with, and all the heat and humidity. But right now you could wear long pants and a sweatshirt outside and be very comfortable. I love fall and watching the trees take on their beautiful colors. Its a calming time of year when all the hard work of summer is almost behind you and long days and nights of winter are around the corner. So peaceful indeed. Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Making tomato juice is one of the easiest things to do in the canning season. Most of the dirty work is done outside to keep the mess to a minimum in the kitchen. In summer I catch rain water, which we have had an abundance of this year, in large plastic totes and use this to wash most of the dirt off the tomatoes. Then its into the kitchen for the final rinse and they are then cut in quarters to make them easy to go through the squeezo strainer. The squeezo strainer is the best thing in my opinion since sliced bread. The tomato chunks go in the top and the juice is forced through the screen into one container and the seeds and pulp go out the end into another pan. Heat the juice to boiling for about 30 minutes, put in jars and seal. The addition of a teaspoon of salt per quart is optional as far as I am concerned. Total today I have about 2 gallon canned. Jason used the strainer for me to extract the juice which was a big help. He drinks more of the juice than anyone so its only fair that he do most of the work. He fails to find the humor in that last statement. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Today was a great day to work outside. The weather was good but very wet from the t-storms we had last night. I did find time to pull all the grass and weeds out of the spent onion beds so I could plant asparagus that was given to me by a good friend. One of the beds still has walking onions in it and they got weeded and now need to be mulched. We worked in some compost and got those planted. Now I need to make a place to plant the peppermint also. The asparagus will take a couple years to make spears but well worth the wait. And the peppermint makes great tea.
After the planting we made out way to the garden to pick corn, tomatoes, cukes, squash and dig some potatoes. The corn is finished and the cukes are almost done too. I did get about a bushel of tomatoes. The few cukes and squash will be made into bread and butter pickles tomorrow.
We have had so much wet weather that the potatoes are starting to sprout again in the ground. We are going to dig them as soon as possible to prevent further loss. This has been a really hard gardening year, but we keep at it. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Ah the joys of life on the farm in summer time. The weather today was rather nice for an August day. Overcast and cool enough to enjoy being outside. Although being outside was not to happen for me till later in the evening. I spent the early part of the afternoon making tomatillo salsa. This was all new to me and I got to experiment a little. We had some with our tacos and burritos for supper tonight and it turned out rather tasty. I sure had enough tomatillos to use up. Just some advice, if you grow tomatillos, a few plants will supply you with all you want to deal with. But not me, I planted about 30 plants and have already harvested 1/2 bushel and there will be probably a bushel more. But it will get used and shared with friends I'm sure.
After supper I decided to let my young chickens out in the yard for a bit to get some greens. The poor things have been in the building so long they really don't know how to act on the ground. Some of them came out to pick at the nearby grass and one decided to try his wings and landed in the grass and really just froze in his tracks. The cats were very amused with these big birds but not sure if they were for catchin or watchin. But with some convincing from me they decided to just watch the chickens for a bit from a distance. As dark set in the chickens went back in the building to the feed and water and safety of their house. Some of these birds will be in the freezer soon and some will be layers for next year as I butcher off my older flock of layers. In the meantime they are a pleasure to watch as they go about their business of living.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.