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Beans!

Beans!

Every week we get a box of produce from Organics to You, but this week, we wanted to see how much we could eat from our garden instead.  So, we cut back on our order for next week, and Saturday we woke up early (some of us) and harvestested as many veggies as we possibly could.

Check out how much we were able to get.

From the Garden

From the Garden

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I’m currently chowing down on a delicious lunch of beans and kale from the garden.  I’m washing it down with a drink I’ve made from Georgette’s homemade rhubarb ginger syrup.  This morning, Willis picked some peas, beans, kale, and calendula from the garden.  Afterwards, we took a trip to Garden Fever to pick up some fennel and onion starts and some leek seeds to get the Fall garden started!

July 11, 2009

The garden keeps getting better and better everyday. The lettuce, scallions, and kale are still producing, the sunflowers are starting to burst, and we’ve got tomatoes, cukes, potatoes, and carrots on their way.  We pulled up the garlic last weekend and they’re currently set up to cure in the basement.

Sunflowers

Garlic

And for good measure, here’s Peat and Bog enjoying their garden peas!

Peat and Bog

–ciara.

One of the best perks of being friends with Sam, other than hours of giggle-fests, art making and secret swapping, is that she and her mother run a small CSA in Vancouver, WA called Old Lady Acre.  They have tons of chickens, fruit trees and bushes, a greenhouse and big garden plots.

Ciara, Mad and I went out on Monday morning to meet the chickens that could become our backyard pets and pick fruit.  It was a beautiful day in Vancouver and there was a lot to harvest.

When chickens attack.

Future Treestar?

Tux, Ciara's new best friend

Tux, Ciara's new best friend

Georgette in the raspberry patch

Georgette in the raspberry patch

Sam & Mad pick black currants

Sam & Mad pick black currants

Mulberries

Mulberries

Sucker cherries

Sucker cherries

What we picked-- meyer lemon, raspberries, mulberries, rhubarb, three kinds of cherries, black currants

What we picked-- meyer lemon, raspberries, mulberries, rhubarb, three kinds of cherries, black currants

After all that hard work, we took a trip to downtown Vancouver to Sam’s friend’s house where we picked sour pie cherries in her backyard.  Ciara and Sam picked from the garage roof and I discovered I might be afraid of heights.  We drove home with a car full of fruit and big plans.  (Thanks Sam!)

Here is some of what we made:

raspberry cordial, ready in two months

raspberry cordial, ready in two months

mulberry-raspberry jam, raspberry-rhubarb jam

mulberry-raspberry jam, raspberry-rhubarb jam

black currant syrup

black currant syrup

Not pictured: cherry-apple pie, various frozen cherries

If anyone out there is interested in a share of Sam’s farm, it’s $380 for the season (until the first frost, a screaming deal), payable in installments. You have to go out to the farm to pick your food up every week, but we can attest that it’s a complete treat.

Our dinner earlier this week was not only delicious, but also blog worthy.

Georgette came home from the store, excited to cook up a storm in the kitchen, making Alfredo sauce with the last of the Mozzicotta.

I decided that a good addition the the meal would be a nice garden salad.  Everything came from our own backyard: two types of lettuce, strawberries, scallions, broccoli, goat cheese…ok, the goat cheese didn’t come from our backyard, but I wish it did!

Garden Salad

To drink, Willis and I had a small glass of the now potent dandelion wine we made a a little over a month ago.  We made two batches pretty hastily, but it suprisingly worked out well.  We couldn’t wait and immediately opened the first one, and it was like pure nectar.  Every day it gets less and less sweet, but still good – I have to dilute mine with seltzer water.

Dandelion Wine

–ciara.

Years ago I learned how to make jam from my best friend’s mother, leaning over big boiling pots in her kitchen with purple stained wooden spoons. Since that time I’ve been fascinated with preserving food of all sorts.

Here at the Treestar Mansion, we get fresh veggies and fruit delivered every Monday from Organics to You.  While Monday is Ciara’s favorite day of the week filled with exciting food options and a visit from her sister, mine is Sunday when we look into the fridge and figure out what to do with the produce no one ate.  A few weeks ago I made a Magic Pickling Jar for turning unwanted vegetables into delicious vinegary treats. We use the brine over and over, just refreshing with extra spices as we add new vegetables. It’s super easy to do and as Mad will attest, it makes a delicious after-work snack.

I go through preserving phases.  First it was jam- strawberry rhubarb, blueberry lime, even an amaretto peach.  Then it was pickles.  I spent last summer searching for the perfect refrigerator dill recipe and tried about 20 different recipes before deciding on just the right balance of salt and vinegar.  I think this year might be the year of cheese. I was at the co-op last weekend and purchased a DIY cheese kit and figured it couldn’t be that hard. I mean, if Barbara Kingsolver can do it, so can I.

diy cheese kit

Cheesemaking is an adventure.  I set about making mozzarella, which later I learned is one of the harder beginner cheeses to attempt.  First, you add citric acid to a gallon of milk and heat it to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then you add rennet and leave it to make curd, which you cut  into these neat squares:

curds

Then you cook the curds and drain them to prepare for an elaborate stretching process.  Shortly after this my cheese took a wrong turn:cooked and drained curd

In theory, you should use a microwave to heat up these curds 30 seconds at a time, salt and stretch them into one ball of mozzarella.  We don’t have a microwave, so I tried the old fashioned method with a hot water bath.  It turned out soft and not entirely formed in a ball, somewhere between ricotta and mozzarella, so I dubbed it Mozzicotta.  It was yummy as Will attests in this photograph:willis

I’m really looking forward to perfecting this recipe and trying to make some different cheeses this summer.  Stay tuned!

Everyday, you walk out into the garden and there is something new happening, like the exploding roses on the bushes, the creepy crawly peas attaching themselves to the broccoli, or the potato leaves bursting out of their cages.roseOur container garden is explanding.  Yesterday, I put a cage on top of the third potato tower.  Last weekend, Kate, who will be moving in this weekend brought by some more tomato and pepper starts, and Willis quickly transplanted them into some pots for the driveway, along with some herbs from Georgette’s seed collection.  Georgette recently planted some squash and cucumbers (pickles, what what!) in the front and built an awesome trellis out of old bike wheels.  It looks great.

containerstrellis

Last night, I cut back the last of the spinach and mustard greens.  We cooked up the greens for dinner and I plan on putting the last of the spinach into some pesto.  We’ll pull up the spinach and greens this weekend and plant in their place, but with what, we have yet to decide.greens-ciara.

Dan Quale joke anybody?

We’re currently growing three potatoE towers (BOOM!).

They’re pretty simple and a great way to grow a lot of potatoes in a small space.  We started with a recycling bin with drainage holes, added a layer of compost and straw, added four seed potatoes (potatoes with sprouts coming out of the eyes), and covered the potatoes with a couple inches of compost.

Start of a potato tower

Start of a Potato Tower

When the potatoes grew a bit, we added more mulch and straw to cover part of the potato plant but allow a few leave to be exposed above the soil.  We have continued this for the past couple of weeks and the soil in the recycling bin has nearly filled the bin.  The idea behind this is that potato plants will set out more tubers if soil is partially covering the stem and leaves, than if the potatoes are left to grown normally.

Potato Tower a Couple Weeks Later

Potato Tower a Couple Weeks Later