Friday, September 28, 2012

Icelandic Horses

Isn't this stallion a beauty? He's one of several Icelandic horses on the eco-farm I'm staying at.

A beautiful 125 acre property rife with reindeer, wandering guinea fowl, beehives, apple orchards and so much more.

It's a nice place to land after a day at the scandinavian spa.

Shhh, people relaxing.

Everyone needs some R&R now and then.

Off to the sauna.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Quick Pancakes

I'm a big believer in the improv method of cooking. I follow recipes to the letter when preserving food for food safety reasons, but when it comes to everyday meals, having an attitude of spontaneity means you will cook more often and enjoy fresher fare. 

Cast perfection to the wind and enter the joyful land of culinary freedom.

Pancakes are one of my regular wing-it meals. You need a bowl and a fork (or a whisk). Eggs, milk and flour. Badaboom. Sure, you can add a pinch of salt, baking powder, some sugar or melted butter, but you don't need to. 

You can make super yummy pancakes with milk, flour and an egg. Ingredients you normally have on hand. Add a teaspoon or two of baking powder and the pancakes will rise to become fluffy, but there's nothing wrong with flat denser cakes. They're more cosmopolitan, in fact. I adore them.

If you have an apple or other fruit in the house, you can toss that in too, but you don't need to. Mine have wild blueberries today.

I never, ever measure anymore, and honestly, you don't have to either. Anyone can toss together pancakes in under a minute and have them in the pan and on the table in five.

What to do:

Add a healthy scoop of flour, one egg and start stirring milk into your bowl. Get the batter to the consistency you like. Thick or thin, there is no perfect consistency. Boom, you have pancake batter. (Add baking powder to make them rise to fluffy stature.)

Put in too much milk? Call them Swedish pancakes. Thick batter? Thin it with a little more milk, or go for the big thick man-cakes. You can add a pinch of baking powder or salt if you like, let the batter rest, etc. but I'm all for whip-it-up, fry-it and get it onto the plates. Less stressful that way, which means, you'll make them more often.

No maple syrup on hand? Thin the batter, call them crepes, smear with butter, dust with sugar or give them a squirt of lemon juice. Yum.

Anybody can make pancakes. A hot pan greased with butter will accept your improvised batter and deliver a comforting breakfast or late night dessert.

So go forth readers, and make your cakes. Thick, thin, fruited, plain or buttermilk. It's a delicious way to start the day and there's only a one bowl, one skillet, cleanup to contend with.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wild Blueberries

Here they are in all their tiny silver-blue untameable fabulousness. The flavor of wild blueberries is subtly explosive. An oxymoron, I know, but quite fitting. I swear you can taste the antioxidants. They have double the dose of cultivated blueberries.

Half the size of their bloated cousins, wild blueberries freeze well and bake an awesome pie with a tighter filling. Less watery. These little gems are a super fruit loaded with phytochemicals that fight aging. Look kids, no Botox!

Yes, great things do come in small packages. I can so relate to that.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Filling the Shelves

Much of the harvest was eaten fresh this season, but there has been a bit to put up for winter storage.  I'm slowly filling the shelves. My goal is to eat far less imported produce and fruit this coming winter. Food safety continues to be an issue due to poor inspections, mass produced GMOs and pesticides used in conventional farming. See this year's dirty dozen.

If you grow your own food in your own home-composted soil and preserve it yourself, you know exactly what you're setting on the table daily. What I lack in variety I can always buy in bulk at organic farmers' stands to bring home and preserve... and wild blueberries are in season! It's a ton of work, granted, but truly worth it.

I've been drying and freezing my herbs for years as well. I keep my old spice bottles and refill them with my own garden's herbs. Saves a bundle and drying herbs is the easiest way to start preserving food because they are a cinch to grow and store. All you need to do is wash, hang by stems to dry and then store in your containers.

Conversely, wash and dry off the fresh herbs and freeze fresh in a ziplock for months (be sure to remove all the air, you can use a straw to do this). You can also preserve some in oil. There's nothing like grabbing summer herbs from the freezer to dress up a salad or winter stew.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall Crocus

The fall crocus are up. There's no denying it now. The seasonal baton has been passed.

The light is changing too. The butternut squash can sense it.

Tomatoes are dashing to the finish line. I'm hoping the small green San Marzano volunteers I discovered only this morning can hang in there.

The raspberries seem totally unconcerned however. I harvested an enormous bowl this evening and there are plenty more waiting in the wings to ripen.

It's been a great year for herbs. Sage, thyme and marjoram especially. For some reason I didn't plant basil, tomatillos or Brussels sprouts. Don't ask me why. Divided attention, I suppose. Is it too late for brassicas? With the aid of a hoop house I may be able to extend the season months longer.

The nights are getting much cooler. I'm considering installing Christmas lights powered by a solar panel inside the main hoop house. Hoping for a 7-10 degree rise in temperature. Every little bit helps. Especially for the tomatoes. The challenge is to keep the lights from making contact with the plants or the plastic. Heat rises, so lower placement is best.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scotts MiracleGro fined for adding insecticide to Wild Bird Seed

This is the last package of Scotts bird seed I will ever buy.

It's troubling to learn that the company laced wild bird seed with the toxic pesticides Storcide II and Actellic 5E to protect their bottom line. This action not only violated the law but also good sense. You have to ask, who makes these bonehead decisions?

I first learned of this from Margaret Roach's excellent blog A Way To Garden and felt compelled to make a post of my own. Here is a link to more info on the case.

Environmental Newswire

My Garden Toad

How well he blends.

I have watched this lovely fella grow and fatten up considerably over the season. He has done a fine job keeping the slugs and snails down to a minimum.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Freezing Tomatoes

I've been too busy to can the never-ending supply of tiny tomatoes so I am using a tip from The Garden Web and just freezing a batch.

I tend to use these little guys in soups, stews and pastas (sometimes salsa) so there should be no problem with texture. What a relief to have them stored in a matter of minutes without a steamy house and bad hair day to contend with.