Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some sun, some flowers, and lots of lacto-fermenting.

It has been busy around these parts. I know the blog has been very quiet and that is for a few reasons. One, my camera is in for repair. Sometimes I borrow one, but I really miss MY camera. Also, we've been making lots of food and putting a variety of foods up for winter. The kitchen sink is always busy lately. Oh and the third reason it has been quiet here? You may guess it... yup 2 small kids ;)
Speaking of those small kids, they went on a green tomato picking spree one afternoon while I was pulling down the sweet pea flowers (at the end of August? They don't usually last past June!). What do do with all these green tomatoes? Green tomato chutney! Delicious. We've had it on salmon tacos, burgers, omelets. My 4 year old big boy will eat anything if it has green tomato chutney slathered on it. I'd post a photo of it but we've eaten it all...Oh! Look! We have a new layer. One of the homegrown babies has started to lay. They're a mix of Cuckoo Marans and something else... hard to say what with our unseparated flock. A teeny little perfect egg was found this week in the nesting boxes. The rhubarb harvest has been in full swing. At the end of August. Weird. I know I keep saying this, but this has been the most odd summer ever. My 4 year old took this photo of me holding a rhubarb bouquet.
The melons and pumpkin vines continue to grow and I see some of the pumpkins are growing quite large.
I was beyond excited last week when I found a preying mantis on the yarrow! I've never seen one here in my garden! It was only perhaps an inch and a half long and it's coloring perfectly matched the yarrow. Of course I was without camera so I have no photo of it, but what a dreamy abode the yarrow makes.
I even spent an afternoon with the seeds in the garden. I brought them out to remind them of where they will be growing. No, really, I brought them out to plant some but the day got away (ahem) and I haven't had a chance to even think of them since. I do need to get some fall seeds started.
And now for the lacto-fermentation chatter. If you aren't already familiar with fermenting foods, this is a great summation by Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation. Food Renegade and Lost Arts Kitchen have great posts to read if you want to acquaint yourself with why and how . It is so very simple indeed. No need to be intimidated! I promise. A simple, healthful, natural way to preserve food AND make it even more nutritious.

Much of the vegetable ferments I've done use a simple sea salt brine solution with some garlic and herbs thrown in for flavor. The only down side of fermenting vegetables that I have found so far is I do tend to go through so much salt!
Look at these sad tomato plants! My my... it seems as if they wouldn't hold a single tomato in there.
But we've been eating a few of them! This was the real first harvest I suppose, although it was just a quickie-mini from the first few plants. Just a grab-and-go-cuz-the-kids-are-alone-inside-likely-wreaking-havoc type of mini harvest.
We've also been eating lots of carrots. This harvest of this crop of Amarillo carrots is coming to a close. They have been a great producer for us this cool summer. Our favorites, Purple Haze, didn't fare as well in the coolness.
Some of the tomatoes and carrots quickly became lacto-fermented salsa and some lacto dilly carrot sticks.
We've been making a bunch of salsa in fact. One afternoon my big boy and I had a hankering for some salsa but we quickly realized we were out of lemons and limes and since the baby was napping, there was no chance of a quick jaunt to the store.
Which led to a GREAT discovery! My son has been eating lots of Sheep Sorrel, a common weed in our garden. His eyes got big and he said "I know! Let's use the sheep greens! They taste lemony!" You know what? He was so right! In addition to the lemon flavor, it also imparts a nice tang.
My big boy and his harvest of the goods for our afternoon of salsa :)
We've also been picking and fermenting lots of dilly beans, which I made just like the carrots.
This big glass jar has been filled with cucumbers for true salt- brined pickles. We're all really excited for them, especially my little guy.

Also in the lacto mix went several jars of Escabeche. We've begun enjoying this lot already and let me tell you it is really fantastic! I plan on making a few more batches of this, one of which I'll leave the jalapenos out of so the boys can enjoy the onions and carrots and mild peppers.
Canning too! I made all sorts of boysenberry preserves this spring and as it turns out our favorite by far is the batch I made with orange juice and zest in it. So I tried my hand at adding it to the strawberry as well and it's quite nice. Then I got all fancy and followed this recipe for a batch as well... and well.... it didn't gel. It's great added to our homemade yogurt so I'll keep it for that, but would love to do another batch using my standard go-to pectin to ensure it gels properly. I'm still not sure what I did wrong. I'm wondering it it's time for a new thermometer. The ginger in the recipe is awesome.


My Ugly Garden said...

What a wonderful harvest you are preserving. All the hard work of growing, tending and preserving with the reward of knowing you have your own food stored up. Ah, what a wonderful feeling that must be. Not to mention the wonderful lessons your boys are learning. Snaps to you!


Marlyn said...

My seeds are sitting out on the patio table too -- looking around for a good place to go -- I'm hoping they will tell me because I am feeling perplexed and in need of a new "plan"!

You're escabeche looks gorgeous, and similar to mine! Im about to put some pics on my blog -- but I have none of the finished escabeche (though I still have a jar or two and could take some) or of my purple tomatillo salsa (which is all gone!). I took both to a party Monday and they were huge hits. I ate the escabeche today for lunch with homemade crackers and yogurt cheese and then for dinner on top of grass fed tri tip tacos!