Tuesday, October 30, 2012

oddities in the jelly world

Usually when I make jams and jellies, I go about it with the following criteria:

  • made from home grown ingredients
  • pesticide free
  • low/no sugar
  • no dyes
But, after overhearing a comment from J. one morning, I was set upon a new path.  He mentioned that he thought it would be cool if jam came in weird flavors - instead of always berries and fruit and such.  This got me thinking about weird flavors, and what would kids like.  After mulling it over for a while, I did indeed come up with some kid friendly, unusual jelly flavors.

cotton candy, blue raspberry, bubble gum

I ordered some candy flavorings and went to work.  Sure enough - you can make candy flavored jellies!  And they really do taste like the real thing!  The kids liked the uniqueness, but promptly have gone back to the normal berry and fruit flavors.  I can't blame them - it's pretty disconcerting to have bubble gum flavored toast.  Still for the novelty of it all, I'm glad I experimented!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

little pumpkins

My mom grew these pumpkins in her garden this year, and the kids have been having a lot of fun decorating for the season with them.  They have been in a row across the table, clustered at the ends, on the window bench, stacked, sorted, and in orderly patterns.

Excitement is mounting as the holiday draws closer.

A. has been spending every free hour working on a costume he is designing.  He is going as the Steve character in MineCraft. We had the grange Halloween party this Saturday to kick things off, and A. was able to go with all but the arms of the costume done. J. also made his costume, and is pleased to be the Blue Screen of Death.  At Saturday's party, he was a bit frustrated that everyone thought he was only a computer.  He had to tell them to look at the screen.  I'm sure there will be pictures to share soon.

I have to say, I am really enjoying that the boys have come up with their own costume ideas, and are making them mostly by themselves, and completely from items we have on hand along with some free boxes we gleaned.  It's been great seeing their creativity shine through.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

harvest time - take 2

or three, or four. We have had a bumper year, and are still picking from the gardens.  Recently we picked the last of our Asian Pears, another 40 pounds of tomatoes, and approx. 100 pounds of apples.  Still in the garden are a few more ears of corn on the cob (can you believe it?!), carrots, beets, beans, chard, lettuce, mizune,  kohlrabi, various herbs, and - more tomatoes!

two types of Asian Pears

20 pounds of produce from leftover plants given to us

I have been watching the weather closely wondering when the frost will hit.  I plan on hooping some crops this weekend to extend the season.  And, I'll need to cut and pull in all remaining tomatoes and beans soon - probably also this weekend if the weather doesn't force my hand sooner.

The root vegetables can wait, as frost improves their flavor.  This is giving me time to process what we have already brought in.  We are eating fresh produce with every meal.  What we can't keep up with is becoming sauces and cider.

this morning's meal - apple cornbread

What a year for the garden!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

cranberry coffee cake

This is currently our favorite coffee cake.  Very easy to make, and such a good flavor between the tart and the sweet.  Check out the recipe here and try it out.  I think you'll love it too!

Monday, October 1, 2012

harvest time

Frost Peaches

This year has been a bumper crop at our place.  Between the fruit trees starting be old enough to bear fruit, and the weather, we have had our hands full with: cherries, plums, peaches, apples, and asian pears.  Then, Big J. found three pear trees on our property (where we live once had an old farm on it), which have never produced before, and now have wonderful small red pears on them that I look forward to trying.

When you have this much of a fruit windfall, combined with a good amount from the gardens and eggs from the chickens, almost every meal and snack is putting these items to use.  Even with all the fresh eating, there comes a point where you just can't keep up - and that's when I pull out my preserving books.  Big J. assembled a 5 level heavy duty canning shelf for me, and it is already loaded for bear with canned goods, and produce is still coming!  I've began drying and starting to fill the freezer, which we completely emptied by the end of June from last year's harvest.

I am feeling very squirrel-y as I stock up for winter, and I look forward to both getting to use all these wonderful treats in the cold months, and being done with the preparation of said treats.  Perversely, what I don't look forward to is when it is no longer possible for me to waltz outside and pluck what I wish for our meals.  Fresh is always best - and what a year for it!