Friday, July 17, 2015

Garden Still going strong!

So it's hot here! I mean really hot. And while the cucumbers, blackberries and blueberries are about finished, we still have lots of life left in our garden. Below is our cantaloupe patch. These are huge. I mean ginormous! And we've had a few already and they are quite good. We just eat these. I don't put them up or freeze them or anything. Sometimes if we have any that I've cut and are pretty ripe, I'll throw them in my smoothie bucket, but for the most part we just devour them.

Our watermelons are growing well too. Here is a pretty one camouflaged in the vine, but you can tell it's beautiful, and will just be wonderful. We have 3 different kinds planted and I expect at least 30 good melons. We'll eat them a lot, share them and maybe even trade a few.
Below are my famous muscadine vines. They run in kind of a weird L shape along the perimeter of the main garden. They are huge. I mean honestly we have way too many, but we aren't going to cut them down. Some along the back there are concord grapes, but most are muscadines ( which to you non-southerners are just a type of grapes)

 Here is kind of the under shot side of the trellis. If you look close you can see the green fruit just waiting to ripen. Lots of sweet juice and jelly in my future....

 I'm getting a few tomatoes. I've made one batch of hot salsa, and we are eating 1-2 everyday, but for the most part they are still coming on and are green. I expect many more tomatoes and hopefully lots more salsa, ketchup, pasta sauce, pizza sauce etc in my future.

These are the little tommy toes that we just snack on. And put them on salads and such. Good stuff.

We also are getting okra, corn, squash, zucchini, eggplant, purple hull peas, lima beans, green beans, new potatoes and peppers and cucumbers still. We are getting about 6 eggs a day as well from our chickens, so we are pretty much good on eggs. We are in the height ( and the heat) of the season and I'm proud to be able to grow our food and cook good food for my family!

What do you all have going on? Outlook for your garden pretty good?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Puttin' up Peppers!

It's getting hot in here!

It's not quite time for my famous pepper relish yet , but we do have a ton of these hot banana peppers. I only planted 4 plants this year, but just this morning I picked a 5 gallon bucket full! I have about a third to my dad and brothers to eat and kept a few for use to snack on. I also know that we'll have more in a few days. Anyways, I prefer the sweet ones, but will eat the hot ones occasionally, but my husband, father, father in law and brothers love the hot pepper rings.

 Just for reference, these are what they look like. Just imagine a 5 gallon bucket of them! So I pickled them of course.

 I just washed and dried them really well, then prepared my jars and rings. The mixture I use is just 2 parts water 6 parts white vinegar, maybe a tablespoon pickling salt, and some garlic.

 These aren't super bright. They are kind of a dull color to start with, but they will eat just the same! So what do we eat them on? Home made pizza, sandwiches, salads, tacos, beans, by themselves, really all winter the men can find something to eat them on.

 So I also planted some little tabasco peppers and they are beginning to make. I went ahead and pickled some to use as pepper sauce, used mainly on greens and with cornbread, at least around here. I then thought to myself, I bet I could get one of those cute little jars like pepper sauce ACTUALLY comes in. And with a quick search I found some on Amazon. I had some credits from my Swagbucks, Bing and Gift Hulk, and I have Amazon prime, so I ordered them, have free two day shipping and they cost me nothing out of pocket. I'll let you know when they get here and will show you how they work.
I'm sure I'll have more peppers I'll be putting up as well. Don't forget to check out my 2015 canning totals here.
What are you all up to in your kitchen during this hot summer?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Add some color to your homestead!

I think we all like a little color don't we? I always try to plant some wildflowers and other flowers in a really no nonsense fashion each year in our garden. By that I mean we till up a row and I just spread the seeds. Nothing fancy, I normally don't keep them weeded once they get a few inches tall etc. It's really there for several reasons:
1: Beautiful right?
2: Butterflies and Bees like them ( good for pollination too)
3: The kids like to pick them

Here is a butterfly I caught this morning enjoying the flowers.

 Here is kind of a view from the front of the row, you can see that they are not in any order or fashion. Just nice and lovely. They honestly don't take much work at all. I planted $11 worth of seeds this year.

 And with my $11 worth of seeds I get countless bouquets. I'm talking a lot. The kids normally pick a nice bouquet for our house and my mom about every third day. I also keep some vases in the bedroom and our guest bath as well, which they keep fresh. The kiddos have also given bouquets to neighbors and my grandma when we visit her in the nursing home. We've taken them as hostess type gifts as well when we have been invited to dinners or parties. They are always appreciated.

 And while I don't plant them for the money savings ( I probably wouldn't buy them at the store anyways) a nice bouquet like this from a supermarket would cost $15-$18 EASY. So I have already made our money back probably 50 fold.
So next time you are doing your garden plans, include a row ( or two!) of some nice flowers you can cut for bouquets. They really do brighten up the homesteading!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: The Wilder Life

You all may recall that I'm quite fascinated with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Please refer to my other posts regarding Laura and her life:

 Part 1: Introduction to the Series, information about Laura
Part 2: The books!
Part 3: Dress like Laura
Part 4: Places to visit to have that "Laura Experience"
Part 5: Cook like Laura

I also went and visited her adult home in Mansfield, MO which you can read about here.

So, this book called The Wilder Life is written by Wendy McClure and I of course got it from our local library.

She is a young lady, which based on a few things she says in the book is just a few years older than me and takes an adventure to visit the sites of Laura Ingalls. She describes herself as being quite obsessed herself and talks about buying multiple sunbonnets, churning butter and making snow candy as described in the Little House books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it very fast and was excited to see what was next. I told my husband " I think this lady is my long lost best friend!". I mean I could see myself sitting down at a coffee shop with this gal and chatting for hours. We seem to have a kindred spirit. She is quite funny and has a wonderful writing style. I really enjoyed this book and was in a way sad for it to end...I think anyone that is interested with Laura would really find this to be an enjoyable read. Pick up a copy !

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mid Summer check in

I have been busy to say the least. And it is really getting hot here. I've been doing my animal tending, gardening , jogging etc in the MORNING before about 9 am or it really is pretty un bearable.

So you can always see my 2015 canning updates here .

 This is an old picture from last year when I had a canning party !
This year we have had lots and lots of cucumbers. You can see in my canning list that I have made pickles. I've done bread and butter, spicy dill and regular dill. I still may make a few more quarts. I've also give away probably 20 gallons to my friends that want to make pickles, and I've sold about $50 to folks on a Facebook group ( like an online yardsale). We also like to keep the cut up and cold in the fridge and snack on them throughout the day, and I have used them as a facial mask ( get them cold then put them on my eyes). Not sure if it works but it feels good. I also cut a few up and keep it in a pitcher of water in the fridge. Something a bit refreshing about it.
We slice them and put them on sandwiches and I have made several salads and such out of them. A few of my favorites are :
The cucumbers are about finished for the season, I expect maybe a few more quarts of pickles, and some to snack on, but not a substantial amount. 
I only made 4 quarts of blueberry pie filling, and I wished I could have made more. This is all our blueberries made this year as they are still young, and honestly I was impressed with that many. I just couldn't buy any at the farmer's market to make pie filing with, I hope to make some peach and apple pie fillings as well, so buying blueberries at the Farmer's market seemed a bit frivolous. We had plenty to snack on and I made a few cobblers and even some homemade ice cream and fried pies with them.
Now we are coming upon what I like to call, the hottest of the hot. Tomatoes, black-eyed peas, peppers and okra are all coming in strong. I see many more hours of salsa, pepper relish and shelling peas. Be sure to check out my recipe for pepper relish. It is delicious and we all love ( grown ups, it's spicy for kids)
What have ya'll been up to? Anything especially doing well? Anything that was a flop?