Thursday, October 11, 2018

Looking Forward to the Slow Season

Good evening from my home in Wykeham Township, Minnesota. Fall is seriously upon us, and it has a good measure of winter mixed in. I've been getting the garden produce ready for the freezer, also canning, and drying. Since I live alone out here in the sticks, you'll notice I don't grow or preserve nearly as much as some of you might. I try to keep enough for myself and the family visitors I have throughout the "Slow Season." Notice I mix Fall and Winter together, because in Minnesota they're really so interconnected. One day can be the classic autumn day, but the next can be bitterly cold with snow.

I like to dry peppers, but I don't have a dehydrator, so I just use my variation of an oven method, not scientific, but it gets the job done. I don't dry huge volumes of peppers, so a few jars will last me a long time.


One thing I gathered, is that it doesn't pay to try drying green or even yellow peppers. Wait until they turn orange or red. Seems the moisture content is too high otherwise. So if you grow the Hungarian yellow peppers, don't pick them so early, let them turn orange/red. They are my favorite. Another is the red cherry-bomb pepper. Don't rush the ripening that comes with sunny weather. Just my observation. I put the peppers in the oven at 200-250 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off until it cools. Then I just let them cool, crumble them and put in a clean jar with a few rice kernels on the bottom. You'll notice I have some greener ones on the cookie sheet. I just threw them into the mashed potatoes that night.



The drying of anything from the garden increases the flavor, sweetness and  richness of any fruit or veg. Of course a dehydrator is the best, but I don't have the storage room for all these appliances, so just accept the best from what I have. These are good on pizza, salads, potato salad, any kind of gravy, and I like to knead it into the dough for dinner rolls. Try drying peppers.

Here are some photos of maples in two of our churchyards in Eagle Bend this October.






One of the signs of Fall is the tiger salamander looking for a place to burrow in and get cozy. I usually see one or two of these every year.

Here are some pickles I've made. I was disappointed in the cuke variety I picked this year, called "Munchers." They had an excess of seeds, even in the smaller ones. But my brother-in-law likes them, so not a failure.

Today I spent my time getting all the geraniums I keep into the house. I keep them all from year to year. I realize that it is a lot of work, but I do save a lot by keeping them in the basement, and I don't especially like spending $4.99 or $5.99 for a pathetic little geranium in the Spring. I'll do it my way. These will go downstairs in the morning.


I hope you have a blessed Fall. I hope you will leave a comment. Now it is time for this.


















Saturday, September 8, 2018

St. Francis Under the Pole Beans

Hello. I hope you are all having a good, quiet weekend. The weather has been really nice these past three days. Cool and dry. What a change! Green beans are really producing well, maybe too well for me.

I always liked the imagery of St. Francis. He was known as a friend of animals and nature. Here he stands under the pole bean arbor I made this spring. I wanted to make more room for onions and potatoes, so decided on pole beans rather than bush beans.


Here's another view. As a non-Catholic, I always thought my own religion was a little too severe when it came to saints. Of course that was years ago in Lutheran confirmation class, so I have decided for myself that Francis was a good guy. How could you not respect a guy who invited birds to rest on his shoulders?


Today, there was a nice clear view of my farm's hayfield looking to the southwest. The neighbor that has been harvesting the hay has decided to plow up the field and disk it. He still has to seed it with alfalfa and red clover. I'm hoping that it gets done this fall. I don't have the farm equipment to get it done, as it's very expensive. 


As I worked in the kitchen getting green beans ready for the freezer I took this picture of the view to the north. My house is surrounded by a lot of trees, maybe too many, but it has kept the house cool this summer. I don't have air-conditioning.

I don't follow the traditional freezing procedure. I don't blanch the beans. I also don't "flash-freeze" them on cookie sheets. For me, it's a waste of time and anyway not really possible in a conventional freezer. I just lay enough beans flat in one layer in gallon freezer bags to feed maybe 2 or 3 people at a meal. They come out just fine and a lot more flavor remains than if you blanch them. I make sure to wash and re-use the bags always.

Baby Boy (Byron) wanted me to show him off by the ripening plum tomatoes and goldenrod. He likes the attention. Some folks say the plum tomatoes don't have much flavor, but I think it comes out when they are cooked. I really like them.


I've been trying to cook out of the freezer to make more space. Chicken soup was on the menu tonight. I make enough for 5 more meals later on. It's especially good to have them ready for the winter, when I like to enjoy the luxury of the "hibernating season." So I'll be making more soup this coming week, chili, chicken, ham and navy bean etc. Today I used up carrots that were slightly past their prime, a few small onions and more green beans. I try to make do with what there is here. 


I hope you take time to make use of what we've been given. Simple food is the best. Have a good weekend.









Monday, July 30, 2018

A Walk Around This Old Farm

Greetings from Wykeham Township, Minnesota. I haven't posted for several months, and the time has gotten away from me. I make excuses. Some might be just excuses like "I was too busy,"  and others might be real reasons like "is any of this even worth doing?" Anyway I have missed doing the posts and sharing some of my life here, so I'll make another attempt. I hope you are all doing well, and if you are having any misfortunes, I hope they can be managed as best you can, and hopefully go away completely.

Man, this has been one wet, weedy, hot, summer until now. In the last two weeks, I feel the weather has given us a respite to feel somewhat civilized for once. I must say, the summer has been good for flowers and the veg. It isn't the best, because I planted the veg very late, but at least things look healthy. Some of these photos are from the whole range of July. I am a fan of day lilies and hostas, so these pictures might be a little heavy on those. I like the coolness of hostas and arborvitae evergreen trees. These are in front of the house.


Here are some hostas and day lilies in a shade garden in front of the house. There is also a dark red Asiatic lily that I planted after bringing it to church a few Easters ago in memory of my Dad.


In the same garden are a lot of these "alba marginata" hostas, green with white edges. I like them and think they give a cool "northern" look to a shady area.


As the spruce trees get older, I find it necessary to trim them up from the bottom. I've been planting a lot of native ferns around them and here I put all-green hostas in front.


Here is another place by the garage where I've done this.



Over the last few years I've put in a lot of spirea shrubs and "Stella D'Oro" day lilies down by the meadow which was once the pasture for dairy cattle. These spirea are a Japanese spirea and I like the reddish-pink flowers. The more you trim them, the more they flower. The same with these small day lilies.


Here are a couple new hostas. They're next to a garlic-related plant that smells really good when you touch it. I guess that's a personal preference, because I like the smell of onion and garlic on my hands. 


Here are some more day lilies that I've been growing. Many are very old ones that my parents had at least 35 years ago.







The veg garden is coming along but much slower than others I've seen.



I keep geraniums year to year in the basement during the winter. They are still doing pretty well. Here they are on the porch and around the house.





Finally, here are a couple more photos of some of the work in the yard and by the old dairy barn.






So that's what I've been up to the past few months. Hope you are all o.k and enjoying the summer. All the best to you. 

Phil


















Monday, April 30, 2018

Many Thanks to "Far Side..." and Some Meanderings

Hello, everyone (I write as if I have this huge following)! I wanted to say a big Thank You to Connie at "Far Side of Fifty" for sending me a "snowstick" prize. I received this nice wood-carving of a little gnome house and a really neat hand-made card on Friday. It means a lot to me. If you want to follow a fun blog, please go to http://farsideoffifty.blogspot.com/ and enjoy a true-blue Minnesotan as she describes her days. I often think we have lost some of our traditional characteristics here in Minnesota, and it's refreshing to visit her and witness pride of family, generosity with time and talents, love and care for animals, and a slightly wicked sense of humor. You have to be special to regularly take your dad to bingo! Here are the nice prizes. I will be framing the card and put it with other lady's slipper items I have.


This past week has been a bonus week for animals stopping by. A big tom turkey has been visiting daily with several hens. He stands guard in all his regalia while the hens and young toms scratch through the leaves and find all sorts of good things to eat.




The deer seem to have fared well through a long hard winter. They've resumed their saunter through the farm, using the same path as last year. They've been walking through just before sun-down.





Yesterday I noticed the rhubarb is peeking up through the white pine needles. The red nubbins are such a vibrant red. The time will fly so fast and soon I'll wonder why I didn't cut more rhubarb. 



The porch needs a major scraping and re-staining, but I like the little growth of moss on the doormat that I forgot to take up last fall.


Time for coffee.


Have a good week. 
Phil