Friday, August 27, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Time is flying by! It seems like forever since I've had the time to blog. I wrote the last post while staying at the farm for a week. That was great. Even though it was so hot. My to do list didn't get any shorter though because of the heat. A lot of outdoor projects planned that didn't get finished.
Things we did get done...
1. Vanity is in and we have a working sink in the bathroom. No more running downstairs to the utility sink to wash up.

Left over laminate & wood from a previous job, $5 sink, new faucet & pulls.

2. Hazelnut bushes un-buried from the surrounding hay. Neighbor Jim came over with his tractor & cut paths by the hazelnuts so Eli wouldn't have to bring the horses & hay cutter close to them anymore. We will be able to mow with the lawn tractor now.

Golf cart stuck in a swale before Jim came over to mow. It was wet & I slid down into it.  Can't even see the hazelnuts in this picture.

Hard to see, but the hazelnuts are by the stakes.

3. I made baby food from summer squash for Jaelyn and froze it in ice cube trays.
4. Took an afternnon to stay in the cool basement & juiced cucumbers, chard & carrots from the garden. We have so many cucumbers and can't possibly eat that much.

Pure cucumber juice is the lime green and you can see the layers of cucs, carrots & chard in the other jars.
5. Primed the ceiling in the new living area. It was so hot, I was sweating like I ran a marathon.

Ceiling primed

6. The electricians were there on Thursday hooking up all the electric previously run & running new outlets in the workshop & basement.

7. Was frighted by two thunderstorms. One early Monday morning (1:30am) and the other on Friday morning. The first one was a crazy lightening storm. The sky was lit up constantly for at least a half an hour. It must have flashed three times a second. Friday's storm had very scary tornadic-like clouds and it rained two inches in two hours.
Steve helping Eli rescue his cow who was walking down the road.

Pretty low clouds with some rotation.
After the storm was beautiful. Love the contour planting.

Steve came back up on Friday night and we went to dinner at Chililetos in town. Saturday we went to a stone store in town & ordered the woodstove surround river rock. We just got the call today that it is ready for us to pick up this weekend. We now need to get started on the platform for it so we can put up the stone. Then we can have the woodstove installers come to finish up.
Steve also worked on a couple more windows and this last weekend he did three more while I mowed & worked in the garden. We also had some family come up to visit on Friday night through Saturday afternoon. My brother Bill & his daughter Lindsay & son Andy. Wife Linda stayed home with son Trevor who was sick. We went to the Wild West Days parade, ate at the Driftless Cafe and then home for a campfire.

Bill, Andy, Lindsay & me.

The finished windows.

This week I went to visit Kristin, Tim & Jaelyn. I had so much fun playing with Jaelyn and it is always hard to leave.

Tim, Kristin & Jaelyn

Mommy reading before nap time.

It's Thursday night and we leave for the farm tomorrow. Supposed to be a beautiful weekend. Hope everyone has a great one!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Fingers Are Burning...Why?

It's not a very good picture, but it shows how red my fingers are. What was I doing you may ask to injure yourself in this way? Cleaning garlic cloves. Who knew? Or maybe you do :-). Not just a few cloves...more like 100. I have heads of garlic that besides from a few surface flaws are fine. But not good enough to sell.  So I thought I would preserve them by freezing up batches of garlic puree, a mixture of garlic cloves & olive oil. After the first batch, my fingers started to burn. I put them in cold water but that didn't help. The oil from the garlic was still on my fingers. So I sprayed some "green" cleaning spray on them & the burning went away. I kept cleaning the cloves but it kept getting worse. So I quit for now. I would like to finish later, we'll see.
Garlic cloves cleaned & ready to process

One thing you may notice from the picture is that some of the cloves are green.  This is "young" garlic or green garlic. These bulbs were harvested a week or so before they were fully mature. The kind of garlic is "Italian Late". I needed to get all the garlic harvested at once due to other commitments the next weekend, so I dug these too.When they say" late", they mean late.
Some specialty grocers sell this green garlic or you may be able to find them at a farmers market. They are perfectly safe & have a milder taste. The flavor of  is still garlicky, but is much more mild with less of a bitter bite. When you cook it, the green garlic sweetens. It can be used raw or cooked.

Garlic Puree, ready to freeze.

Here is how I made it...
For every one cup of cloves, I added 1/2 cup of olive oil. Process until smooth in a food processor or blender. Pour into a clean jar or container & freeze. So simple. (Note: One thing you should never do is leave garlic in oil at room temperature. That is a recipe for botulism) The mixture won't freeze solid due to the oil so it is easy to spoon out what you need. My next batch (if my fingers can take it), I will add some herbs. The puree can be used on breads or added to any number of dishes. I kept the varieties of garlic separate in their own batches for a "taste test" of garlic varieties. I grew 16 different kinds & want to figure out which are the hottest, mildest, etc.

So I am off to do other projects now. I have zucchini to shred & freeze, a garden to weed (not  happening today though. 105 degree heat index) and a bathroom ceiling to paint. Yesterday I finished priming the living area ceiling with the sun beating in on me from the west window. I really didn't think I could sweat so much!
After the sun sets & close to midnight, I will try to be awake for the Persoid Meteor shower. Tonight is supposed to be the best night for it. Last night I went out but only saw six shooting stars. So look to your northeast and see the show. There could be as much as one meteor per minute. The last time I saw it years ago, it was amazing. Wow...just think of how many wishes you could make.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shop Etsy...Support Artists

Isn't this beautiful? It is a bird feeder that I plan on hanging at the farm.

My niece Trisha has her own Esty shop now called Roundabout1.
Check it out if you get the chance. She has bird feeders, cake plates, knitted & croqueted items, cards & jewelry for sale. She is always adding something new. She loves being a stay-at-home mom, but wanted to be able to make a little money, too. This is perfect for her. She is very creative and has all kinds of energy to keep up with her two daughters, Noelle & Addy, and make beautiful items for sale.

It's a beautiful day here in Illinois. No rain or even the threat of it. That is a change :-). Looking forward to getting to the farm later today. Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes. I will have a great day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vanity is Taking Shape

You may remember,  a long time ago, that we were working on a vanity for the farm. (See here). We didn't get to far when all the other everyday stuff took over & it got pushed to the side. When you own your own business, stuff tends to get in the way of what you would like to do a lot. This past week, we made the decision that we are putting in the vanity this weekend. So we (mostly Steve) have been working on it after hours in the shop. It is in the spray booth now being sprayed with a water based finish. After that, it will be sanded & sprayed two more times then put together.
Steve spraying the doors
Front of vanity. Mission-style.

Sliding drawer that fits around the plumbing.
So exciting to get a project completed. Right now at the farm, we have to go downstairs to wash up in the utility sink in the future laundry room. What a luxury to have a sink in the bathroom. I'll post some pics when it is assembled & installed.

I am excited to get to the farm on Friday. It's my birthday day. The big 54! Glad I don't feel that old. :-)
My brother & his wife might be coming up to visit on Saturday so that will be fun!
I am constantly thinking about what I want to do with the land we have and am thinking of having Eli plow a huge area for winter rye and then follow it with oats in the spring. We need straw for the garden and eventually maybe more garden space. We are starting to look into getting certified organic so we can sell veggie through Organic Valley (a possibility?) or market our own. With twelve acres, there are so many possibilities. Can't wait to see what veggies are ready to harvest this weekend (or what is missing...a post on that later). I have a feeling the thing that needs the most harvesting is the grass :-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Saturday's Family Visit in Pictures

Jaelyn in her Minnesota fishing hat.

I really do like sweet potatoes :-)

Aunt Amy & Uncle Rob enjoying time with Jaelyn

Shopping with Grandpa is fun!

Kristin, Tim & Jaelyn after dinner at an Irish pub

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cabbage and Food Preservation

A couple of weekends ago at the farm, I picked three cabbage (one large green & a small green & red) and brought them home to Illinois along with a whole cooler full of spinach, lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots, onions, new potaotes, summer squash, basil, oregano, chocolate mint, a small amount of garlic (rejects I'm not going to sell) & cucumbers.
Harvested garlic before cleaning

Drying the garlic

I give away quite a bit of produce to my family & the guys at work. My daughter is starting to make baby food for Jaelyn, who just started eating solids so she got the summer squash. No one wanted cabbage, so I decided to try making sauerkraut. I have never ate it so it was all new to me. I have preserved foods in many different ways, so fermentation is now added to my list. I went to Sandor Ellix Katz's website Wild Fermentation to get some instruction on how to proceed. It really is very easy. This time (yes, there will be a next time), I made plain sauerkrat. Just cabbage. The next batch I will be more creative and maybe add carrots & apples. I love that it can be stored for months in a cool room or canned if you want. Cannning does kill the "aliveness" though as Sandor says. Fermented foods are great for your digestion.
Cabbage ready to be covered for the fermentation process.

So if you grow cabbage or pick some up at the Farmer's Market or your CSA, try making some sauerkrat.