Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another thing to love about the autumn season

We went out to the organic corn maze and pumpkin patch at Earthbound Farms yesterday and had a blast! Colven is much faster this year than last, I was wishing I had tennis shoes on instead of my clogs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Autumn Garden

Here is an overview of our garden, taken while standing on our native lawn.The planted tomato bed (as opposed to the abundant volunteers found all over the gardens which produced earlier than any I planted :)I think I purchased a mismarked plant, because I don't remember planting any romas... but these are definitely sauce tomatoes. This one is called Ping Pong Pink. I bought it in honor of the pink pong tournaments that run rampant up here on the hill. Turns out it is a really delicious and beautiful tomato. Lucky!

2 views of this bed: Patypan style squash, eggplant (which remains a non-producer covered in flowers), a new batch of radishes planted with a certain recipe in mind. The long vine in the second photo is ___ something I forgot to mark so I have no clue until it produces. Dang it.

Kale, artichoke, 2 zucchinis (one of which is pretty much done, the other is just getting started for a bumper crop), some kind of melon that I forgot to write down, hanging here in the close up. It is a musk melon of some kind, very tasty. Also a little patch of radishes that have been picked over by the birds.
This bed is pretty funny really.... it is a teeny carrot patch crowded by broccoli plants and beets. You can tell that we have been pretty keen on the beet greens by the looks of the barren land of stems LOL. Always makes me laugh a bit when I see them like that. They fill back in so quickly though. Bumper crop of green beans, the (largely unproductive) pepper plants, spinach, borage, parsley for the companion quality of it.Fresh bed which had housed our green beans all summer. Now it is planted with hardneck garlic, salad scallions, more beets, and a few scraggly carrots. Next to go in are the cabbage plants... I think...
2nd crop of rhubarb this summer, companion planted with columbine.

The children's garden, mid-deconstruction. I just harvested all the corn and began pulling out the stalks (not easy). The cerinthe, marigolds, and tomatoes are still pumping out their last little hoorahs.
THE pumpkin vine!
This was the one we selected to be the big grower, unfortunately today I noticed that the vine has split, so this is as big as it will get. I didn't have my usual toddler model to gage it's size, so my Croc stood in.

Nopales fruit
THE FIG! YAY!! Fruits are still completely green and I'm hoping to have some left when they are ripe. I say *hope* because Colven pulls one off at least once a day to "check it" sigh... This is our blueberry raised bed. These plants are supposed be good producers in our area, but after 2 years of water and food they still look like this :( This is our future asparagus bed I decided this summer. We'll still try with the blueberries, I'll pop them out and move them somewhere.
The nanaberries and strawberries. The nanaberry vines which produced last year are about to be cut back and all the new vines which are now on the ground will be tied onto the trellis.

Our first grapes!
(why didn't I plant seedless??!)

The newly pruned herb bed. Next project, taming the wild jungle above it.

Here are our older chickens, I was trying to get an image of them while they were all cozied up together while napping but one saw me and alerted the others so they all came running since I am the barer of all things delicious LOL
This is Lulu, a friendly and docile gal! She is my favorite so far, right down to her crooked little comb :)

"The replacements" aka the young chicks that replaced the ones Cyrus' f-ing dogs ate. Still a sore spot and as yet unresolved dynamic in the family (even extended if you can believe that! the nerve...).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I just sat down for the first time today, after a long day of harvesting, a bit of preserving, and a whole lot of mothering. I looked over at a bowl of tomatoes that I placed on the counter earlier and they looked as if they were glowing! Beautiful. What a nice little reward. It is the little things after all, isn't it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Palin Poll

Subject: Palin poll

Passing it on:PBS is doing a poll which asks if Sarah Palin is qualified to be VP. The right wing has organized a yes campaign and are storming the PBS NOW poll voting for Sarah Palin's fitness to serve as president and right now the yes vote is winning!

Please vote and pass this on to your e-mails lists. Please take literally 2 seconds, go to: http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html and vote! Send this on. Thanks!

-- True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wanna fight?

Cyrus got up early (who gets up at 4:30am to go surfing with a buddy but an insane daddy? WOW! good on ya!) So Colven and I had a regular morning together. For fun, I asked Colven to give his "Grumpy" face. Grumpy was a man I was never able to meet, but he is Cyrus' dad's dad; Colven's great grandfather. Apparently this grumpy face is infamous in the family, and so apropos. Super cute, eh?

WTF was I thinking, I mean CHIVE SOUP!

It was time to move the chives out of one of the raised beds. The patch started as few and had grown into many. They had started to crowd each other, they had started to crowd the bed. I pulled all of them. I gave some to my sisterIL, my mom, a friend and still... there were chives. I started to think. What shall I do with all of these as to not waste all of this late summer goodness?
Make soup!

So then how does one turn this into soup?

First I cleaned them up and picked out all the dry stuff (and the bugs!)

Roasted a bell pepper on the stove while I worked

Meanwhile I melted 2T of butter in a large stockpot, sauteed one yellow onion and 2T of curry powder and 3 cloves of garlic. Added VERY well chopped chives, about 5 cups of them (but I have to say less could very possibly be more here!), threw 8 cups of chicken stock on top of that and tossed in the skinned roasted pepper. Covered the whole pot, brought it all to a boil, then turned the heat off to let it cool with the top off.

In my mind I had a creamy soup in the works, so I blended it in stages until it was smooth. Which took some time. Which is why I say definitely cut the chives small. Or else they will get caught around the blades and toss your lovely soup makings all over your clean counter. And walls. Oh yes, and floor too. Of course. Bleh.

The results were less than desirable. Grassy, bitter, lacking of luster. So, as I was thinking WTF was I thinking anyway? I decided to fix it up. I added 1/4 cup of honey, 2t of cinnamon, 1/2t of clove, and a bit more yellow curry for good measure, the juice of one lemon. At the end I blended in a pint of cream. (What doesn't cream fix, anyway?)

The results? DIVINE!
You know how chives have that little deceptive burn to them?
This soup is all about that. Not so much that my 2 year old won't eat it, but enough to keep the grown ups entertained.
I must add, that after a night's meal I can tell you that this was a true HIT with my boy. He ate his entire bowl! SWEET!

If I were to do it over again I would water bath the chives after cooking a bit to retain their color better. Just aesthetics though :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Art inclinations

Yesterday, as I was canning up some tomato sauce, I saw Colven come inside and grab an envelope out of the recycle pile and a pen and run back out. After a few minutes of silence I became curious as to what my little 2 year old monkey was up to so I quietly walked up into the garden and saw him squatting next to the chicken pen, drawing and looking, drawing and looking. I didn't disturb him, but went back to the tomatoes instead. When he came in he showed me his drawing and said "Look mom! Chickens mom. Ya."

My artist!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Tomato Canning Project: Salsa

I should begin with a disclaimer: I have never done this before and I won't know for months if what I did will be any good :) Fun stuff, huh? ha!

So, I did look at a few salsa recipes and then kind of made up my own deal since I'm really not one for following anything to a T, or closely at all really! I like to think of it as creative, not as a refusal to comply of course! I threw all my fire roasted tomatoes into a pot and boiled them down. I had to add a teeny bit of water for this. Then I tossed in a handfull of roughly chopped cilantro and 2 roughly chopped giant garlic cloves, and a bit of fresh cut corn. Boiled it all for about 10 minutes and then filled the canning jars and did a water bath for about 20 minutes. Took them out, every single one of those bad boys sealed.

I ended up using the majority of the fire roasted tomatillos as well. I did almost the identical thing to them, except I did have to process them in the blender because their texture is a bit more tough and less likely to break down without a good twirl. I did add some apple cider vinegar to this batch to up the acidity, I'd say I added about half a cup between the 5 jars. Who knows if that will be enough.

So all in all I have 3 jars of salsa, and 5 jars of salsa/enchilada sauce. As the tomatoes ripen I have more plans for them. Next up is katsup! Hoping to find a slew of newly ripened beauties out there tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moms VOTE!

Want a free "Moms Vote 08" bumper clinger?
MomsRising.org is giving them away totally free--even the shipping's free. I just got mine, and wanted to share the opportunity with you.
Click this link to get a free bumper clinger:
Bumper Clinger

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Preserving the Harvest

I spent this evening preparing some garden goodies for consumption this winter. We are constantly striving for a more self-sustainable life, so growing what we eat and eating what we grow is a cornerstone to everyday life for us. We aren't always perfect so sometimes things go to waste, and I don't take nearly the notes I should. Such is life! I thought it might be fun to document my preparation for canning tomorrow.

Here is the prep table for tomatillo and tomato roasting. All the implements and tools required are present (haha! Just saying that because my cell phone and beer are right there!)

Tomatillos on the grill

Ready for freezing
Roasted tomatoes ready for canning

Monday, September 15, 2008

Corn, glorious corn!

I did it!
I finally did it! I grew AWESOME corn this year!
It's a first really terrific harvest for me. I've only struggled with it in years past so I was ready to give up and I'm SO GLAD that I didn't. I read that my friend Angie had made some corn chowder for dinner last night and reading that led me to wondering if our corn was ready yet.... and it is perfect. I made the most glorious garden chowder tonight for dinner. Anyone who has tried and failed at growing this hungry crop will most likely especially appreciate my delight. YAY!

Home from Vegas!

I arrived home late last night after a short yet incredibly sweet trip to Vegas to meet up with some fellow mom friends. It was my first night away from Colven. I had early apprehensions, but when the time came to leave I was entirely giddy! It was FANTASTIC! The hotel, the company, the food, the lazy river!

Thank you dear friends for a fantastic weekend. The time away with you has bolstered my spirits, strengthened my courage, and provided me with a fresh outlook which was so miserably needed.

I hear little tidbits of words from "the elders" who profess that they just never got breaks from their small kids and all I can say is ... SORRY! Good for you for not losing your mind. You are stronger women than I.

To all the rest of us, CHEERS!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A poignant reminder of this day, 7 years ago.

I listened to NPR for much of the morning today, listening to new and old accounts of this tragic day in history. As my sweet little boy slept for his afternoon nap I made my way around our garden and yard harvesting and spot watering and checking on seedlings and baby chickens. On my way back into the house to check on him I found his little fire truck, half buried in the dirt, and it stopped me. I stared at it for a bit and thought about how every living being was at one point a pure and innocent child. Someone's CHILD. Just as Colven is mine. The hope I have for him, his world and his life swirls through every cell of my body. Every person is the child of another, as well as perhaps a spouse, a parent, a sibling. Somehow Colven makes life more relevant, and the understanding and compassion for the loss of others more tangible and less abstract. In that I mean the loss ALL others experience, regardless of where in the world they may live. All of us lose, everyone suffers. Tragedy is universal.

Humans grow to be simultaneously beautiful and monstrous, tragic and triumphant, peaceful and pugnacious.

Each trait is an irony to the other.
Each moment a beginning and an end.
Each perception individual.

Do you wear "tagless" clothing?

Do your children? If so, you want to read this.

I'm constantly amazed at the many ways in which we are poisoned by industry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Watch this video on John McCain and pass it on. I won't even touch on Palin.