Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pitting Cherries

Cherries are pitted much earlier in the year but since I'm posting a cherry jam next time, I decided to talk about pitting cherries.

This was my first cherry pitter.  Very slow and messy.  One at a time and juice splatters everywhere.  I borrowed a larger one that had a reservoir to catch the pits but it still only pitted them one at a time.  It was not as messy but my hand got sore from pushing down the plunger so many times.

I decided to splurge and get a multi-cherry pitter since I have four cherry trees and they produce many pounds of cherries. 

I freeze some of the cherries with pits just to eat as fruit during the winter.   I pit the ones I am going to use for jam, desserts, smoothies, and baking.

As you can see, it pits five cherries at once.  You fill the hopper with cherries and give them a nudge into the holes.

You pull the lever and voila five done in an instant.

As you can see the pitter comes down and pushes the pit through the cherry into a container.

You can see the sharp teeth that push out the pits.

The cherry stays on the pitter to fall off into another container.
Here are the cherries - ready to be bagged and frozen.  I usually make my cherry jams in the early fall when things have slowed down in the garden.  July is too busy and often much too hot to be making jam.
Here is the pile of pits.  This pitter is quick and not too messy.  It isn't 100% perfect so you do have to check for missed pits.  This happened with the other pitters as well.  Sometimes the pitter slides alongside the pit and leaves it in the cherry.  But this is minor to getting the pitting done quickly.  I do a quick check when bagging the cherries and again when I thaw them out to use to remove any missed pits. 

All in all, I'm happy with my cherry pitter.  It makes cherry pitting much simpler.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Spiders In My Yard

I have seen a variety of large spiders creeping around my buildings this year.   

The spider weaves a sticky web
To capture bugs to eat.

What keeps the spider's sticky web
From sticking to her feet?

Spider webs are very tricky
Because not all the strands are sticky.

Unlike the passing hapless fly,
The spider knows which strands are dry.

But if she accidentally stands
Upon one of the sticky strands,

She still would not get stuck, you see--
Her oily body slides off free.

by Amy Goldman Koss

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Growing Soup Beans

We have a Seedy Saturday seed exchange here and I have tried several different seeds over the past several years.  I tried several bean varieties last year - pinto, black and white.   I only had a few of the white beans so I used them all for seed this year.  They were labelled as Cherokee Trail of Tears so I have been calling them that until I went on the internet and found that Trail of Tears beans are black.

Here are the beans in the garden earlier this summer.

They are a bush-type bean.  They grow green pods with a pinkish blush on some of them. 

As they got more mature, they turned pinker. 

I pulled them out before they were completely dry so they could dry indoors.  Last year I left my beans too long in the garden and a number of them split and spilt their seeds in the garden.

I tied them together and hung them in the greenhouse.  After they dried, I shelled the beans.

I set them on a tray to make sure they are completely dry.  Notice the shape of the beans - they are more roundish than regular white soup beans.  I'll have to do more research to see if I can find out what they are. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I was given this recipe years ago when my boys were young.  It was a new way to use up some zucchini.  I was very moist and tasty and I made it every year when the zucchini took over the world.


1/4 c butter or marg
1/2 c oil
1 3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c sour milk
2 1/2 c flour
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
2 c grated zucchini
1/2 c chocolate chips

Grate enough zucchini to make 2 cups.  I use unpeeled but know of some people who peel their zucchini to hide it from others eating the cake. 
Combine oil, eggs and butter.  Mix in sugar and vanilla. 

Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 

Mix well. 

Add dry ingredients, alternating with sour milk. 

Add chocolate chips and zucchini. 

Stir well. 

 Pour into greased and floured 9" by 13" pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 325°F for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 I don't bother to frost the cake because it is so moist.  Enjoy!  ;)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spiced Plum Chutney

I was looking into making some spicy plum chutney for a friend.  I found these three recipes that looked interesting so I took what I liked and made up a recipe of my own.

I decided to use both my Italian plums and prune plums.

Italian plums are larger and have a more yellow coloured flesh than the prune plums.

Prune plums can be eaten quite green (my dad likes them this way) or you can wait until they are softer and the flesh is a little yellower.  They are usually the last plums ready but this year, one of the trees was ripe early so I used them in the chutney.


10 c plums - cut into pieces (I used prune plums and Italian plums)
4 apples - cored, peeled and chopped - (about 2 c)
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 c golden raisins
2 c sugar
1 1/2 c vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp mustard seed
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Wash and pit plums.

Cut into pieces.  I ended up using 5 cups of Italian Plums.
Do the same with the prune plums. 

I again used 5 cups of cut-up prune plums. 

Peel, core and chop apples.  Chop onion and mince garlic.  Add raisins and rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Stir often and let mixture cook and thicken.  It takes around an hour for this to happen.

Fill sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.  This recipe made 5 pints and 1 half pint.  You should allow chutney to sit for 4 to 6 weeks before eating it so the flavours can meld. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Car Ride with Lulu

Lulu and I took another trip to see Barry in Alberta.  She doesn't mind travelling as long as I'm there.  Travelling with a chicken makes packing interesting.  I basically have the trunk and the front seat as Lulu has the back seat to herself.

I have a number of old sheets and towels that I use to cover the seat.  Add a dish of eggshells and a dish of scratch on the seat.  In her kennel she has a bowl of water and another of chicken feed.
 Here comes Lulu ready to travel - but first she has to check things out. 
"Okay, so I have snacks to eat - I must try them out just in case they are not good."
"Not bad but where are the peanuts and sunflower and pumpkin seeds."

You hoo!  Mom!  You forgot something!  Where are my travelling snacks?"

Lulu checks out her kennel.  "Hmm, nothing in this corner." 

 "Nothing over here, either!"
"Hey Mom!  No snacks in here either!  And I saw you had bags in the front!  And grapes!  You have grapes and aren't sharing!"  All this drama and we haven't even left the driveway yet!  ;)

Actually, Lulu is fairly easy to travel with.  She only gets agitated sometimes when she is trying to lay an egg.  Poor girl - she lays such large ones - I'd get agitated too!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Martian Cookies

Since I have a number of large zucchini that I plan to use for Zucchini Candy , I decided to spare one to bake with.  It was a cooler day here, so I didn't mind using the oven and I had a hankering for homemade cookies.

I got the recipe for Martian Cookies years ago from Better Homes and Gardens - Cookies for Kids cookbook.  My boys loved the cookies so I made it whenever I had zucchini.  I had lost the cookbook through moves, etc. and finally ran across it again at a charity book sale a few years ago.


1/2 c butter or marg
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c quick oats
1 c grated unpeeled zucchini
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c butterscotch chips

I like to use my food processor instead of my grater to grate the zucchini - it is SO much easier.

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg and vanilla at beat again.

In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, and soda.  Add to the butter mixture, beating until well mixed.

Add the rest of the ingredients.

Stir until well mixed.

Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes until cookies are golden.
Cool on rack.  Makes 4 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!  ;)