Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prune Plums

We have had an over-abundance of prune plums this year. 

I dehydrated many into prunes.

Others I made into juice using my handy-dandy Breville Juicer.

Plum juice is often very sweet so we usually mix it with apple juice.

The leftover pulp from most fruit can be made into jam, or sauce or desserts.  The pulp from apples is usually full of seeds and core bits so I use it for compost or to feed the chickens.

The pulp can also be frozen in small containers to use at a later date.

Here is the start of a Plum Crisp using the plum pulp. I greased a 9x9 pan and filled the pan half full of pulp mixed with about 1/2 cup sugar (depends how ripe your plums are) and a dash of cinnamon.

For the topping - mix 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup sugar or brown sugar, add 3/4 cup each of flour and rolled oats and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of the plums and bake for an hour at 350 or until bubbly around the edges.

Enjoy warm with ice cream.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Herb Garden

Last year we started a herb garden.  At one end of the garden we built six boxes using 2" by 10" rough-cut slab lumber.  Each box was 4' by 4' and divided into quarters.

 We buried the boxes 6" into the ground.  The area outside of the boxes was covered with several inches of gray river gravel.  Pots of annual herbs were scattered amongst the boxes.

Some of the herbs are annuals while most are perennials.  Many were started indoors and transplanted outdoors when spring arrived.  Some were direct seeded in the boxes the first year and now self seed each year.

Below you can see one box with the annual Basil along with perennials Chives, Thyme, and Lemon Balm.

Here you have all perennials - Thyme, Garlic Chives, Marjoram and Lemon Bergamot.

The annual Basil shares this box with the perennials Oregano, Greek Oregano and Lavender Bergamot. 

In some of the boxes I have seeded flowers for their evening scents.  Here I have Sage and Spearmint with Nicotina blooming in the other two sections.  I may eventually replace the flowers with herbs and build myself a scented garden as well. 

 Here are my Evening Scented Stocks.  Right now they fill three sections of a box with Spearmint finishing off the fourth.  If you have never grown Evening Scented Stocks, I highly recommend you try them.  The flowers are not much to look at but their fragrance is absolutely wonderful.  They reseed themselves quite nicely.

In this box are two varieties of Lavender as well as Chocolate Mint (my favorite to dry for tea) and a second crop of Dill.  The dill grew almost 6' tall this year so after harvesting it, I reseeded by hand so the tall plants wouldn't reseed all over the whole herb garden.  I will have more dill to dry before the season is over.  The Chocolate Mint was cut right back when it started to get scraggly looking and now I am able to dry more again. 

 Here is the Sage earlier in the season in full bloom.

Chives bloom throughout the year.  I deadhead the flowers and they continue to bloom.

 And lastly here are the blooms of the Garlic Chives.  They are quite pretty and actually have a nice scent - not at all garlicky unless you touch the plant to disturb the natural oils.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grape Juice

I have been canning grape juice this week and will show you a few tips to make the job easier.

After picking the ripe grapes - wash them, remove the stems and sort out the unripe or shrivelled grapes.

Most recipes suggest you use a potato masher to release the juice.  Your food processor is much easier.  It allows you to process larger quantities at once.

The processor chops up the skins and pulp but leaves the seeds intact.

Now pour the juice into a large stockpot.  Heat the grapes to boiling and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Pour cooked grapes into a juice bag.  I made mine from unbleached cotton - I found cheesecloth too thin.  I use a colander over a large pail to catch the juice. 

I cover it and leave it settle overnight in a cool place such as the fridge or a cool porch or coldroom.  The next day pour the juice slowly into a stockpot.  Discard any sediment at the bottom of the pail.  At this point, you can use some of the juice to make grape jelly.

Heat the juice to boiling point and pour into sterilized sealers.  Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.

From 2 containers of grapes, I got 10 quarts of grape juice to enjoy all winter.

You can either compost the remains in the juice bag or feed them to your chickens.  :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Smoke on the Water

Remember the Deep Purple song from the 70s?  Well, you won't find that here.  This is a calm peaceful day - no drums or electric guitars. 

Travelling on the Marble Canyon road one day, I noticed someone burning brush on the hillside.  The air was fairly calm so the smoke settled over the lake.  It looked eerie and surreal so I stopped and snapped some pics. 

Can't you almost see canoes silently sliding out into view - like in Lord of the Rings or maybe Last of the Mohicans?  Paddles silently dipping in the lake  OR do you now hear the first guitar riffs of the song - DUH DUH DUUHH  Duh Duh Duh Duh . . . ?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Madder than a Wet Hen . . . NOT!

It rained throughout the night and is wet and cloudy today.  Not the usual autumn weather.  The chickens are out and about scratching and squawking but out nevertheless. 

I started thinking about the phrase "madder than a wet hen" and have come to the conclusion that the phrase should be "madder than a broody". 

 My hens go out in the rain and go about their daily activities normally. 

Now a broody on the other hand - look out!  They get an evil look in their eye people in the chicken world call "stinkeye" that means "Beware! You may lose a finger." 

They fluff themselves up and make menacing sounds - growls, screeches, yells, and more. 

If you take them off their nest, they flap their wings running about screaming and making life miserable for the other chickens.  They remind me of a toddler taking a tantrum. 

Oh, those hormones!  ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hello and Welcome!

Growing up on the Prairies, I have always had a love of plants and growing things.  When we moved to BC in the fall of 2008 we found a gardener's paradise. 

 Besides a huge vegetable garden, 

we have a small orchard of about 35 fruit trees,

 numerous varieties of grapes and berries,

 a herb garden

and a flock of chickens. 

I have always enjoyed baking and cooking but now have many new and exciting recipes and techniques to try - such as juicing, jamming, jogging. - Oh well 2 out of 3 ain't bad  :) 

I will be sharing thoughts, tips and photos on gardening, raising chickens, preserving and using our bountiful harvests, and other interesting topics that just scream to be shared. ;)

So hello and welcome to old friends and new.