Saturday, January 30, 2010

Clementines Canned with a little Thyme

And so it began. I spent a day (here and there, you know what I mean) with clementines. This week we were fortunate to come by some very inexpensive and exquisite home grown organic Clementines through a friend of a friend. I happened upon a post from one of the foodie blogs I've been enjoying and I'm pretty sure it was the mention of Chinese Chicken Salad that sold me on canning some of our Clementine loot. The entire workings of the day were so pretty I couldn't help but take photos.
I peeled quite a few, enough to have good pile of segments and a good pile of peels (which I will turn into marmalade soon enough).
I had this idea to try different herbs with the Clementines. I did some with whole allspice, some with whole cloves, and a few with fresh thyme from the garden.

I did a taste test tonight of the clove and thyme containers and I found it interesting that all the women liked the thyme and the men (and kids) preferred the clove. I may have to attempt to procure some more of these to do some more experimenting. I love the idea of fresh ginger (especially for a Chinese Chicken Salad!) and I'd like to try some bay and star anise as well. Fun in the kitchen, beauty in the canning pantry. Another great day.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Break in the Weather & Findings

It was so very lovely to wake up this morning to the live oaks lit up by a few rays of light. This morning was a morning for poking around and seeing how everything outside is holding up and perhaps planting the last of the cover crop seed left over from last year.
And for finding where the chickens have been laying their eggs....
No wonder we went from seven eggs down to one per day!

If you have chickens who haven't been producing much for you, look in tall grass ;) You may be surprised!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Last August I posted about our first surviving hen raised chick. If you click here you will see I referred to the chicken as a her, look at the bottom photo. Which I find amusing. She turned out to be a He, as does tend to happen with chicks in my experience since so many are so late to mature.
I ran out to the car during a break in our set of storms to grab my camera and happened to see Roo on the front garden gate. He looked so regal I snapped a quick photo and enjoyed how clever he is to have escaped the fencing once again. Just then I noticed what was happening behind him: Do you see it?????? That first covered bed (which was full of seedlings) was full of chickens. My temporary closepin closures on the shade cloth are not sufficient, especially in these winds. Back to the drawing board. Back to the seed bin. Good thing I'm a seed hoarder.

Wet & Windy = The Chickens are Hiding

We don't get many good storms here. Perhaps one a year? This is a fantastic set of SIX! storms, one following another, which are hitting us right now. For about 10 minutes last night I seriously thought our house would pick up and land somewhere else. I'm happy that part of the storm passed quickly because I'm not sure our jungle outside (or the big oak tree which we built our deck around!) could have taken much more. We even got a big bunch of frozen rain. I've been schooled to not refer to what we tend to get as HAIL by my dad and brother who have each learned much about weather while earning their pilot licences. So... frozen rain ;)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bring It RAIN, I have boots!

So I'm standing on top of our "ranch truck" (phrase used loosely) which is full of old fencing due for a good recycling run and it just looks well... kinda pretty. I think I may have a bit of a crush on my new rain boots....??
Onwards and Upwards please! :) These are some of the views I had while perched precariously on the top of the wet "ranch truck"'s cab. Our garden. And chicken scene. And (native) lawn. This is really a big sneak peek of my new bird protection, so please do notice the two beds which are PROTECTED!!!! Protected I tell you. Huge! No chickens, no birds.... and it has been a solid WEEK!! Yahooooooooo! 4 main beds to go, one asparagus bed, 2 strawberries, 1 golden raspberry bed and anything new we decide to do. Oh hummmm.

See this little pea shoot? Oh, before this would have been fodder for the birds. Not now!

As I was tromping around I found this container of Naked Ladies which are sorely needing some attention. We were given these a few months ago and I completely forgot about them! ugh!

What a fun afternoon I had sans children for a few stolen minutes.
Now all I need to do is brace for the coming week of RAIN: up to 8" of rain to be precise. We are due for one storm after another! Kind of exciting, kind of.... ummmm........ mind boggling when I think of being inside for several days with my busy kids. Yikes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Cookies

We headed off today to meet with a group of moms and babes for a shared-food lunch and play date. I know one of the moms has a gluten and dairy free home right now, and while I intended to try a bread recipe and make some sandwiches the grain mill broke so I was short on the millet flour I needed but as I poked around the pantry I found a few other ingredients which led to a cookie experiment. I'm by no means a pro at cooking but I love to cook and bake, love good food and clean ingredients and I LOVE to read about food in all it's forms (planting, growing, gathering, cooking, sharing, composting!). Everyone really enjoyed these cookies (even the kids) so I thought I'd share the simple recipe which is high in protein, low in sugar, and just pretty darn good and easy.

1 cup unsweetened fine coconut
1 cup almond flour (or hazelnut, or any other yummy nut you might have around)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
sprinkle of salt
1 egg
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
nearly 1/2 cup coconut oil in a liquid state

Combine dry ingredients in bowl. In another bowl or 2 cup mixing cup add liquid ingredients with the exception of the oil and whisk together until smooth and well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix to combine. Add coconut oil and mix again. Form tablespoon size balls and gently press to flatten a bit, cook at 350 degrees on a hot cast iron skillet pan for apx 15 minutes or until beginning to golden.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lemon Grass

Have you ever had fresh lemon grass before? There are so many uses for it, and here in our yard it does get several good solid frosts and keeps growing. In our climate lemongrass is downright easy.
I dug up the lemongrass today to divide and harvest which is something I must do every year for it to be vibrant and vigorous. I keep some for soups and teas and salad dressing and other dishes (especially good in curry). The remainder are replanted and I'm happy to report this year I had plenty to give away~! Lemongrass is one of those amazing plants which grows all by itself given the proper amount of water. I've moved it from place to place in my front yard, sometimes without an ounce of nutrient in the soil, and it just keeps growing. The tops tend to die back in the winter frosts but besides looking scraggly the plant doesn't seem to mind.

My 7 month old doesn't eat much of anything yet but he sure did enjoy a lemongrass teether today. It kept him busy (and dirt from his mouth) for an hour! Nice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I should be working in the garden... hmmm... nahhh!

Today was one of those days when I knew I should be doing more of this:
But did this: This:
And this:

And I couldn't be happier about it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An evening view of our garden at the end of a gorgeous January day

Beets trimmed, books consulted
blankets folded & stacked
nesting boxes filled with buckets to deter roosting (and pooping) during the night
tractor powered down
beds topped up with compost
seeds started
and the one (yes, that's right.. after my brag yesterday we got ONE egg today!) egg being carried inside, this is a peek of it in my pocket with the resident mouser circling about

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How do chickens know the solstice has passed?

It has been but a mere few days since the solstice and already our darling chickens have increased their egg production. Amazing and welcomed! We just purchased our first dozen eggs last week and it felt.... wrong. As in I'm paying how much for sub-superior eggs? Not from my own chickens? I find myself running out to the nesting boxes to see if there are any of our own before reaching for the store bought type.

Hello beauties!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh this weather!

We are having a stellar week of spring-like temperatures and clear skies so we spent the last several days outside just soaking it up! while we can. I have some exciting changes in the garden to post about in the next few days (read: severe bird damage again... time for some covered beds!). The coming year is shaping up to be the best yet. I have all my seed orders in and I've even receieved the first batch! This year I'm growing seeds only from Baker Creek and Seed Savers Exchange. LOVE this time of year for garden planning. We've also been eating so much good food preserved from the summer months. I'm looking forward to growing our horizons and am even thinking of trying for a buy-nothing summer of food. We'll see!! For now I'll enjoy some baby toes in the lush green native lawn. Ahhhh winter on the central coast of California!