Saturday, October 30, 2010

Vegetable beef soup

I hate to waste anything, so the other night when we had a bone in chuck steak, I vowed not to waste any of it.  Today I took the rest of the steak and bones and threw them in a pot with a bunch of veggies, a jar of canned tomatoes and a jar of the beef stock I made when we got the cow.  The result is rather delicious. 

This is what is left after I took some to Hubby at the Fire Station and the kids and I had some.  The recipe was made up, but I'll do my best.

Vegetable beef soup

Leftover bones and meat from a chuck steak, maybe a cup of meat.
1qt tomatoes
1qt beef stock
3 potatoes cut into 1 inch cubes
2-3 carrots cut up
1 qt of beans
1 can of corn
1 small onion diced
1 large clove garlic
water to cover and salt and pepper to taste. 

I basically just threw it together and let it simmer.  After a while, I pulled the meat out and cut it up into small pieces.  It's very yummy and comforting on this cool, fall day.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Potato Onions

After my unfortunate accident with the scissors last week, I was finally able to get out and plant the garlic.  I'm also trying a new thing this year.  They're potato onions.  Apparently these are what people planted for years.  They are a multiplying onion, that appears to work somewhat like shallots.

I got these when we were in Virginia at the Harvest Festival at Monticello.  They are simply labeled 'white', I got yellow as well.  They were planted just like the garlic.  At the moment, they're covered with a small amount of straw, but will get another covering of grass and chopped leaves this weekend. 

I'm anxious to see how they do.  Years ago, everyone had their own set of onions that they kept planting every year.  Similar to how we now do garlic.  They are rumored to be great storage onions with a great taste as well.  It would be wonderful if that was the case.  I hate growing onions from seed.  They need to be babied for far too long and seem quite susceptible to fungus and other yucky things.  This lazy gardener would love to have something that I planted in the fall and forgot about until July. 

Pretty fall day

The weather here has been quite warm lately.  Today was a nice return to the cool, crisp Autumn that we all love here in New England.

Burning bushes next to the shed.

The garden beds with their cozy manure blankets.

Dogwoods turning behind the clothesline.

Broccoli waiting to be harvested.

The chickens are molting and getting ready for winter.

Toby playing with his best friend, Brutus. 

I hope you're all out enjoying the beautiful weather.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

PSA Don't do this at home

Yesterday I decided to get off my butt and get my garlic planted.  Hubby was home from work sneezing and coughing all over the place and generally driving me crazy.  I pulled 2 bunches of garlic down from the basement, grabbed my poultry shears and went out to cut the tops off the garlic.  Apparently my finger got in the way.  What a dingbat I am.  I ended up with a tetanus shot and 6 stitches.  No pictures of the stitches, because I'm sure that is not what you want to see.  The garlic is going to have to wait awhile now. 

On a bright note, the nurse is a big gardener herself.  We chatted about gardening and canning while the doctor worked.  It was quite pleasant actually, considering what was happening with my hand. 

I'm finding it difficult to do much of anything right now.  Toby is mad that he didn't get his walk today.  It is hard to control a 85lb dog with one hand.  He's pretty good, but not that good.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Harvest Monday Oct 18, 2010

The harvests are slowing down mightily here.  It seems as they slow down, I get worse about actually photographing what I get.  Most of the time, I end up running outside to grab something out of the garden to make dinner.  

This week, the only things I actually harvested were some broccoli and swiss chard.  Since my computer won't let me upload the one picture I took, I don't even have that to show you.  Is anyone else having issues with the new changes to blogger?  I hate the way they have photos set up now.

Edited to add that blogger finally allowed me to post the picture of the swiss chard that I harvested.

Anyway, the broccoli went into a casserole and the chard into the soup, both of which I made in the previous post.  This time of year I'm ready for the garden to be done.  I'm hoping my teenaged friend will come back one more time to finish spreading the manure.  Since I still haven't managed to get the garlic and onions planted, that really needs to get done this week.  After that, it's just enjoying the last of my harvests and all the yummy things that I stored.  I'm not sure that I'm cut out for year round gardening.

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions and check out what everyone is harvesting this week.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Day in the Slow Life

Last week Laura, at The Modern Victory Garden, participated in a meme about "A day in the slow life" and tagged me to write something as well.

I'm a big believer in growing, cooking and eating nutritious, whole foods.  It is a work in progress, but I am attempting to ditch the grocery store and work on making my own traditional whole foods.  My kids are newly in school, after homeschooling for many years, so my schedule has opened up quite a bit.  This is a typical day for me at this point.  In this case, it's Friday.

6AM  I'm up and ready to go.  My day starts early, since sleeping late is not something my body has ever allowed.  Being a morning person allows me to get much of my work done before noon.  I start by letting Toby out and getting his breakfast ready.  He eats a combination of home cooked food and dry dog food supplemented by garlic and brewers yeast to deter fleas and ticks.  We don't use the chemical deterrents here.  I then go out to check on the chickens.  Their tractor is moved to allow them new areas to scratch and forage, along with weeding and mowing my lawn.  What a deal!  They also get some weeds and spent plants from the garden along with any foods that either Toby or the family didn't eat.

7AM  The kids are up and the race begins to get them fed, lunches made and up to the bus.  My kids aren't huge fans of sandwiches.  They take things like yogurt, cheese, nuts, dried fruits and anything else they find appealing for that day.  I just bought them thermoses to bring hot foods like soups and the like, so they'll have something warm in their tummies next week.  Both kids have spelling tests today, so we go over their lists and onto the bus they go.

8:30 AM  The last the kid is put on the bus and Toby and I are off for our walk.  We were predicted to have quite a rain storm, but it came during the night and now we have gorgeous weather.  Our typical walk is about 2 miles.  I use this time to organize my day in my head.  It is wonderful to start my day with some exercise and fresh air.  When I get home, I make breakfast for Hubby and I.  Today is eggs from the girls and sausage I made from the pig we just purchased from the local slaughterhouse.  This is made into a sandwich with bagels, which makes me realize I need to make more bagels.  That will have to be another day.

10 AM  I sit down for a minute and check the internet and read a few blogs.

10 :30 It's time to make the Pasta e Fagioli soup. 

The ground beef from our half cow.

Veggies, some from the garden and others from the farm.

The canned goods.  I like to can my own dried beans.  Convenient and I know what's in them.

The soup is ready.  I'll add pasta when I serve it. 

11:15AM Time to do the dishes.  My dishwasher died a few months ago and I'm finding that I really like hand washing them.  I don't have to worry about how clean they are and it is rather cathartic.

Next is repairing a shirt that my son ripped the cuff off of on his first day wearing it.  Then I finish knitting the ends into some dishrags I made last week.

12:00  I make my lunch of soup without the pasta added, which I eat in front of the computer.  Bad, I know.  Just as I'm finishing, a good friend calls to see how I'm adjusting to the kids being in school.  We have a lovely chat.  I bring some more scraps out to the chickens and play with Toby a bit.

1:30 Since it poured last night, there isn't much to be done in the garden.  We're also toward the end of the growing season.  My helper came and helped me with the manure again yesterday.  Since most of the garden is taken care of, I can relax a bit.  The kids will be home soon, so I decide to make them brownies.  We've been cutting a lot of sugar from our diet, so they will be thrilled to have something sweet when they get home.  While they're baking I run up to take a shower and fold some laundry.

3PM  The kids are home and have their snack.  Since it is the weekend, they have no homework and are off to play outside.  We have a wonderful neighborhood, with lots of great kids.  It's wonderful to have so many playmates for my kids and great moms for me to talk to as well.

5PM  Dinner needs to be made.  Hubby is running late, so I am making it later than usual.  I have leftovers to make over tonight.  There is chicken, rice and some broccoli from the garden.  I decide to make up a white sauce, throw some cheese in it and make a bit of a casserole.   Recipes are not my strong suit.  I tend to make things up as I go along.  It isn't bad, especially considering I'm not much of a casserole girl. 

7PM  Hubby is home and we've had dinner.  We relax together with the kids and hear about how school went.  I'm knitting a scarf for a Christmas present while we chat.

8PM The kids are in bed and Hubby and I relax with some TV before going off to bed. 

As part of the meme, I'm to nominate a few people to carry it on.  In that vein, I'll ask Leigh of 5 Acres and a Dream to join in,  Daphne of Daphne's Dandelions and Harvest Monday fame,  and Thomas from A Growing Tradition to round out the group.  

I hope you enjoyed my day in the life.  I'd love to see more join in as it's fun to see what people do in a day.

This post is also part of Simple Lives Thursday.  Head on over and see what everyone is up to.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

He came back!

I've been wondering if my teen helper was going to come back.  Yesterday he showed up for more punishment.  He seems to show up for an hour at a time.  It's amazing what we can get done in an hour. 

The biggest thing is that he can shovel the manure into the wheelbarrow and dump it.  I get to spread it around without my back feeling like I'll never walk again.  We still have lots of manure to spread.  There is a bit of rain in the forecast.  Hopefully, we'll get some decent weather next week so that we can get the rest spread.  Then maybe he can help me rip the weeds along the edges out.  They're really awful!  I love having help!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Harvest Monday Oct 11, 2010

The potatoes are finally all in.  The russet bed was the one I was most interested in.  They're our favorites.  In all, I ended up with close to 200 lbs of potatoes.  It sounds and looks like a lot, but they'll be eaten in our house.  We love our potatoes. 

Unfortunately, so do the groundhogs who dug a hole in my potato bed.  They took bites out of around 20 pounds of potatoes that then ended up in the compost.  The stinkers built their hole by the back fence where I couldn't see them.  Toby couldn't get to them because his electric fence is inches from their hole and he would get shocked.  There isn't anything for them to eat now.  I'm sure they will disappear until next year.

The week saw the last of the tomatoes and peppers that were pulled.  I have to admit, I was so sick of tomatoes that many just got composted.  I'll probably regret that next year.  Not pictured is broccoli and a few more carrots.

All that is left now are the fall crops.  They're doing very well, so they'll be regular players from now on.

This is part of Daphne's Dandelion's Harvest Mondays.  Head on over and check it out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First frost 10-10-10

Last night was our first frost.  It was late this year, which wasn't really all that surprising.  After a  early, wet spring and a hot dry summer, we weren't looking for an early frost.  It has been a wonderful year for gardening here in New England.  Just what the doctor ordered after last year's debacle. 

I had already ripped out the dying tomatoes on Friday.  All that was left in the garden was the cool weather crops who don't care too much about the frost.  I'm hoping to get them to continue doing their thing until Thanksgiving or so.  We'll see. 

There were plans for hoop houses, but after a difficult year in other aspects of my life, I've decided to forgo the overwintering until next year.  I'm hoping that next year will be easier on me.  This year was wonderful for figuring out when things needed to be planted for the fall garden.  What is there will be eaten by us and the chickens, or stored for later use. 

Today is 10-10-10 which is a date used by several organizations to highlight the climate crisis.  I'm planning to spend today in the garden putting it to bed.  The garlic bed needs to be amended and planted.  I'll also be looking to plant my potato onions.  More about those later.

The tomato bed will be capped with a good layer of cow manure this weekend and then left to sleep for the winter.  I still have lots to do in the garden.  The last bed of potatoes still needs to be dug.  We've had quite a bit of rain, so I'm waiting for it to dry out still.  There is an "almost 17" year old up the street who has offered to help.  He spent an hour here turning beds over on Friday, but I haven't seen him since.  Hopefully I didn't scare him off. 

My constant helpers in the garden will be assisting me along the way.  They'll get some treats along the way. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Harvest Monday Oct 4, 2010

We've been getting lots of rain and wind over the past week.  As a result, I still haven't been able to harvest the last bed of potatoes.  We've been getting plenty of other harvests though.

The tomatoes just keep on coming.  Although, the plants themselves are looking awful.  Most of them are fully diseased and looking awful, but they're still pumping out plenty of tomatoes.  If we get a break in the weather this week, I intend to pull them out.  I got a load of fresh cow manure yesterday, so I can put the garden to bed now. 

While I was looking at the tomatoes with a neighbor, I decided to take a closer look at the carrots that I had planted in between the rows.  They looked far better than I had anticipated.  The variety is a shorter type, so many of them are a decent size.  I'm not a fan of carrots, but my family had them for dinner last night and said they were incredibly sweet.

The broccoli continues to do well also.  In addition to the head pictured, there was also a meal of side shoots that I didn't get a picture of.

Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions to see what else is being harvested this week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My October garden

It isn't big or fancy.  It is a bit weedy, but I have quite a bit still happening. 

The chickens are in the main garden doing their clean up.  The fall garden is the jungle in front.   I haven't erected any new hoops.  That has to be done this week, if I have time.  We've been having some warm/hot tropical weather lately, but that will end after today.  They aren't saying well get a frost yet, but it can't be far off.  It's already rather late for my area.  I'm actually now questioning whether I'll put them up, or just throw a cover over a few things. 

This is another angle of the bed.  At the top is broccoli, then red cabbage, overgrown bok choy, rainbow chard and then at the bottom is carrots. 

I'm in awe of the carrots.  I've tried so many times to grow decent carrots, without success.  These were planted in late July after the garlic was harvested from this bed.  So far they seem to be doing amazingly well.  In another bed are some beets, planted about the same time.  They are both doing very well.  My spring plantings generally are pretty pathetic.  Since we don't really appreciate the beets in the summer, but love them in the fall, I think I'll stop even doing a spring planting.  It seems it would work out perfectly to harvest the garlic, amend the beds and plant my carrots and beets.  How cool is that? 

The broccoli is also doing remarkably well now.  All those plants that had looked beautiful and healthy, but weren't doing a thing, are now pumping out broccoli like crazy.  With these, there are a few things I'm thinking.  First, they got planted later than they should have.  Second we had a very hot summer and the broccoli loves the cool.  My plan for next year is to winter sow the coles and greens.  I'll then plant a second round in early July and see how that works.  We love our broccoli around here, so finding a good way to grow it is imperative.

How is your fall garden doing?