Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween.  We only had 9 trick or treaters, our neighborhood is hit or
miss year to year.  But we enjoyed listening to spooky music, carving the pumpkin(even though we went with a super simple design) and getting excited each time the doorbell rang.

Last Tomatoes

Last weekend I pulled the last tomatoes off the vines.  Over the weekend it got cold, it dipped down to 29 degrees Saturday night.  The weather has turned and there will definitely be no more progress from the Summer crops.  Friday night I went ahead and pulled any ripening or full sized green tomatoes.  I will leave all the green tomatoes on the windowsill to hopefully ripen in the coming weeks.  I also pulled the second pepper of the season along with all of the tomatoes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Good Argument For Eating Local

Many people don't understand why it is important to eat local food.  I first saw this on another blog I read and it is definitely worth repeating.  This is one of the best jobs I have seen at spelling out in a concise way some of the many reasons for eating locally.  While it an ad for a Canadian eat local group our situation here in the U.S. is EXTREMELY similar.  The stats might not be exactly the same but the argument is!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quince Jelly

Over the weekend Andy's cousin Andreas from Germany was visiting.  Andy's maternal grandmother was a German nurse who married an American soldier during WWII.  She moved here with her new husband leaving all of her family in Germany.   We wish we got to see them more but the big ocean in between hinders regular visits.

Andreas has a shop in Germany where he sells all sorts of Native American pieces.  Once a year he makes the trek out West to buy directly from the artists who live on reservations.  During these trips he always makes a detour through Cincinnati to visit us.

He always brings yummy chocolate from Germany.  This year he also brought over some quince jelly that they made.  I have never had quince before but knew it was along the lines of an apple or pear.  So of course I popped open the jar once we got home.  The jelly is wonderful, not overly sweet with a hint of citrus flavor.  We will definitely enjoy it on toast, crackers or mixed in with yogurt.

I just wish that I had known we were trading homemade goodies.  I would have made sure to come bearing a jar of jam or peach salsa and honey.  I'd also like to have such cute canning jars.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Volunteer Marigold

This marigold planted itself among the mulch outside one of our raised beds.  It's a great picture in contrasts, the last grip of Summer among the signs of Fall.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I think this was the last eggplant of the year.  The tomatoes are barely even ripening anymore because it has seriously cooled down.  Most nights lately have been in the 40s and even some in the 30s, it has been a very cool October.  I am hoping the tomatoes get a little bit farther since we are going to warm back up a bit and hopefully hit 70 on Tuesday.  But I will soon be pulling a bunch of the Summer crops.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Canning and Preserving with Ashley English

I picked up this book thinking it would be all recipes.  However the first half is all about the nuts and bolts of canning for the beginning canner.  Even though I already know how to can I jumped in anyways because a refresher course never hurts.

I appreciated her in depth explanation of all types of canning equipment, their usefulness and proper techniques.  Often people forget to tell you why you need to use something.  I also enjoyed the history lesson in canning which was quite interesting.

Overall she gives excellent information to the beginning canner and extra pieces of useful tidbits to the experienced canner.  I didn't have time or the need to try any of her recipes but they seem to be an excellent assortment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Pests

This Fall the pests are definitely doing some damage.  I have already said it but it's worth saying again, next year I am using row covers.

The kale and beans have had their leaves stripped.

The cabbage is full of holes and looks the best.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I think this was the last basil harvest.  The rest of the basil still on the plant looks a bit sad.  The tomatoes will soon be nonexistent along with the eggplant but for now we are still enjoying them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winter Stores

All Summer long I was cooking, canning and storing food while it was fresh.  In a way you could call me a hoarder of fresh food.  While the garden is still producing and we can buy things locally I don't want to break into the stash.  But Andy has had his eye on those peaches for weeks now.  I have kept him away telling him I needed to take a picture so I can show off my hard work.  

I have to say every time I walk past the shelves I feel proud.  Some might find this silly.  I know there are some of you out there with much much more than me.  But I know that this food all came from my garden, a family member or a local vendor and was grown the right way.  Come Winter time we will pop open cans and have food that tastes better than most grocery store cans.  I am excited knowing that even though nothing is growing outside we will still be eating well.

This week I finally filled up the shelves with all of the green tomato goodies and decided it was time to document the beauties.

No sooner had I snapped the picture Andy was popping open a can of peaches and ate the entire quart in a sitting or should I say standing.  I'm now thinking next year I need to can double the amount of peaches at the rate he is going to consume them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Green Tomatoes

I found myself the recipient of this bushel of partially ripe but mostly green tomatoes.

I washed them and all laid out they took up most of my counter.  I did find a couple of baby zucchinis in there also.  As any good cook/gardener I didn't want any of it to go to waste.  Four tomatoes were ripening up nicely and were unbruised so they are currently on my windowsill continuing to ripen.  The other ripening tomatoes that were bruised or pierced along with all the green tomatoes were put into a pot and canned into different delectables.

I spent three nights cooking and canning these goodies.  On the farthest left we have a green tomato jam, in the middle a green tomato chutney and on the right a mixture of partially ripened and green tomato jam.  I used a recipe for regular tomato jam from Food In Jars but then substituted in green tomatoes.  But of course we managed to fry one up and eat it before canning the rest.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Confidence Booster

I haven't opened up the hive for an inspection since July.  Soon it will be too cold to open up the hive so I needed to get in and check on them.  I intended to do a full hive inspection but because the last 3 times I opened the hive was without smoke causing the bees to be agitated I decided it was good just to open the hive look into the top and have an experience where everything went smoothly to boost my confidence back up.  It worked because the bees didn't mind me at all and even though I was nervous like the first time I opened the hive all went well.

I did a powder sugar shake in the top super.  We have decided against using chemical treatments and medications for mites but still want to do what we can to help the bees out.  By sprinkling the top of each box with half a cup of powder sugar it knocks some of the mites off and causes the rest of the bees to groom themselves really well also getting rid of mites.  I need to do this another time but to all the boxes next time.

I removed the queen excluder but it was not easy because they have propolised everything extremely well.

Monday, October 10, 2011


The harvests from the garden may not be as abundant as they were two months ago but things are still chugging along and we are enjoying it!

This weekend I pulled out the first tomato plant for Winter.  It was the yellow pear which was sending out suckers like crazy once I pruned the top because it was getting to be 10 feet tall.  The weight of the plant was about to break the stake and take the cage down so I determined it was best to say goodbye since the flavor of these this year have been so-so.  I did however collect all the full sized green tomatoes to find uses for instead of wasting them by throwing them away.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Still Buzzing

With all the beautiful weather we have been having the bees are still hard at work!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I read $64 Tomato a couple of Summers ago.  For those of you who don't know anything about the book it is all about one man and his funny garden endeavors that every gardener can relate to.  He decides to figure out how much his prized brandywine tomatoes cost him based on all of his costs of building and maintaining his garden.  To his chagrin he realizes each tomato costs him $64.

In the spirit we wanted to know how much did each pound of our honey cost.  Considering we bought a  hive, tools, bees and everything else each pound of honey cost $20.30 which is expensive but about what I expected.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Chicken

Apple Chicken is a dish that we always eat on the first day of Fall.  This year the first day of Fall was on a Friday and we were at a wedding.  So I didn't get a chance to make it until this week.  But I will make it many other times between now and the holidays because it is Andy's favorite.  I came up with the dish after reading a different recipe that used an apple gravy.  Its easy to make and a Fall favorite in our house.

Served along with a side of sage roasted butternut squash is a delicious meal.  Cornbread is always a welcomed addition to soak up the sweet gravy.

As usual I don't have an actual recipe but I can tell you my process:

*Cooking times are going to depend on size of chicken pieces.  Always cook chicken until juices run clear.
*In a hot pan I brown both sides of chicken breasts (you could use any cut of chicken I use cutlets or quicker cooking pieces when I don't have as much time) and sautee them until about half way cooked through.
*Then I add a couple cups of apple cider so that it comes up half way on the chicken and on medium heat finish cooking the chicken.
*When the chicken is close to being fully cooked I add diced apples to soften in the cider.  Be careful not to add them too soon otherwise they will turn to mush.  I use about 1/2 - 1 apple per chicken breast depending on size of apple.
*Once the chicken has finished cooking romove them from the pan along with the apple pieces.  Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
*Crank the heat up to high and allow the cider to boil for a couple of minutes to reduce a little bit.
*While cooking chicken in a small sauce pan make a roux of 1:1 butter to flour.  I usually use about 1TBS each but if you plan on making lots of apple gravy you will need to make more roux.
*Add chicken stock slowly while contstantly whisking to remove lumps.  Once the roux has been thinned out with about 1-2 cups of stock allow it to simmer.
*Once cider has reduced turn the heat to low and simmer.  Add the chicken stock mixture and allow everything to simmer and thicken to desired consistency.  The longer you cook it the thicker it will become.
*At this point you can add more cider to make it more sweet and syrupy consistency or more stock to make it more savory.  I add more of each based on the taste I am going for and the amount of gravy needed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Extracting Video

As promised the video of us extracting our honey for the first time is ready.  You will even get to view my awesome coordination in a blooper at the end.  I hope you enjoy the fun of our first extraction.

Monday, October 3, 2011


I picked a lot of arugula but had to toss it all.  It got so spicy in a late Summer heat wave it was inedible.  I am hoping the lettuce that grows back in will be much milder now that it has cooled off considerably.

Surprisingly a pepper did finally grow, it is the only one I have gotten this year.  I left it on the plant for weeks hoping that it would turn red since it was a red pepper plant but at this point since the weather has begun to change I went ahead and picked it.  A green pepper it is!

The tomatoes I pulled off in prepping for the light frost over the weekend.  The cherry ones are ready but all the larger ones will probably have to sit on the counter for a week before being edible.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It was cold this weekend especially yesterday.  I don't know if it ever made it into the 50s yesterday but I do know that it was supposed to go into the 30s overnight.  I'm not sure how cold it got but I do know we got light, patchy frost.

My neighbors might have thought I was trying some odd early Halloween decorations but I was trying to keep my tomatoes protected.  Despite the cold weather we are headed back into the 70s this week and I am hoping to get my tomatoes through a few more weeks before I have to pull them.

I picked all the tomatoes off that were showing some color and left the green ones to fend for themselves.  I was able to cover five of the eight tomatoes and one eggplant.  It looks a bit ghetto especially since the only thing I had to clip the row cover around the plants was my chip and food storage clips.  But it worked and we are now back in the safe zone for a bit longer.