Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canning Season


Slowly but surely, my canning pantry is beginning to fill up with deliciousness.


There are plum preserves… and fig preserves will soon follow. The figs are plentiful, but not quite ripe.


And one of my favorites, bread-and-butter pickles. I have a dear friend who gave me some yellow squash pickles this winter and I knew I would make these this year. Aren’t they gorgeous? I’ll make some dill pickles out of my lemon cucumbers soon. I’m planning to pickle them whole which I think will be lovely.


And I’m on the verge of a tomato canning marathon. There will be salsa, spaghetti sauce, and stewed tomatoes to enjoy this winter. Yum!


I had to share this fluke with you…


Have you ever seen such? I’d never seen anything like it, and oddly enough, a friend of mine had a couple of these turn up in her garden, too.

It’s a mystery to me.


Yes, it brings me happiness to see these empty jars being filled. I know we’ll appreciate all of this hard work come winter. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than nourishing my sweet family. It just feels right to be doing these things.

I don’t plan to do much canning this summer. Only tomatoes, pickles, preserves, apple pie filling, and applesauce. I simply won’t live without these things in the winter. For everything else, we’ll enjoy it while it’s in season. I’m planning a fall and winter garden this year, and we’ll enjoy what the ground offers then. It just makes sense to eat this way - with produce at it’s peak. Besides, I love cabbage, rutabagas, turnips, broccoli, and other cool weather veggies. There will also be stored winter squash to enjoy, as well as onions and potatoes.

I am grateful that God allows us to enjoy the fruits of our labors and find joy in the simple things. This is such a good life He has given us. I purpose to make the most of it each and every day.

What a magnificent creation he has given us to enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Getting back in the swing…

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I’m thankful for quiet distractions these days. For early morning garden harvests, lemon cucumbers, and bell peppers.

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For Mississippi Silverskin peas, Pink-eyed Purple Hull peas, and Fordhook limas that just won’t wait. They keep me busy.

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And give us something to do with ourselves. Something to do that makes us smile at dinnertime. Life is good around here people.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beloved Papa


Father. Brother. Fisherman. Friend. Beloved Papa. Until we meet again at Heaven’s gates, you will be missed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bitten by Blight


Want an indication of how things are going around here lately? Here you go…


Ugly blight.


Miserable blight.


I’ve just pulled up 9 plants, all of which were Homestead tomatoes, and disposed of the diseased material.


Fortunately, my other heirlooms seem to be doing well. These are Yellow Jubilee tomatoes.


This end of the bed is looking okay for now.


I spotted my first Cherokee Purple tomato.


And a gigantic Brandywine.


My yellow crookneck summer squash is looking bad, too. There are signs of black rot… but I’m holding out hope for it yet.

I harvested 3 healthy squashes from it and pruned back some of the wilted foliage.


The Black Beauty zucchini is doing much better.


And the Black Beauty eggplants, too.


The kids are thrilled to have several Sugar Baby watermelons growing nicely.


But, I am not thrilled to have had to harvest all of these green tomatoes. I guess I should be thankful that I have these tomatoes at all.


The fruit is fine. It will ripen on it’s on and go into canning jars for us to have this winter.  They’ll be a mere shadow of the glorious tomatoes they would have been if left to ripen on the vine. But, I couldn’t risk letting it spread to the other plants… and they may indeed develop blight before it’s over. Fingers crossed. Prayers said.


I love this little girl… wearing my glasses and examining my tomatoes. Just like her mama.


We call her the ‘Chicken Wrangler’… little girl loves her chickens.


And you’re probably wondering what has gone awry in my garden. We’ve had intermittent periods of drought followed by storms so severe we lost power. Torrential downpours in the evenings which are not good for the health of a garden. We’re making the most of what God has given us, thankful for his many blessings.

I’m off to see my Papa this morning. I hope you’re garden is growing better than mine!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time for comfort food


I’m sure you’re aware by now of my love for all things Fannie Farmer. If not, let me be clear… She is a fabulous cook!

Going with Maura's advice from a couple weeks ago, I decided to give the applesauce cake and chicken and dumplings a try.


Heaven on a spoon… That’s what this meal was!

You must, must, must make these. Preferably, with freshly snapped green beans from your garden.

One day, you will thank me for this advice. I just know it.

The only changes I made to the original recipes, were to substitute whole wheat flour for the white (1 cup white = 3/4 cup whole wheat) and butter where it calls for shortening. Yum!  Try to use all natural and organic ingredients when possible.

My precious, exhausted family has been in need of this kind of meal lately. Comfort food. There has been meatloaf and mashed potatoes, hearty bean and vegetable soup, and anything else I can think of that might bring us comfort as we face my Papa’s failing health.

Sometimes, you just need a hearty meal. It nourishes the body, and the soul.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A difficult season


For the most part, I try to keep what I share here uplifting. I enjoy sharing things that will help you or encourage you in your own homesteading adventures. I guess that’s why I haven’t posted anything at all lately.

For the last 2 weeks, my Papa has been in ICU fighting for his life. We almost lost him. My Papa is an amazing man. Growing up, he always had a backyard garden. He took the time to take me fishing, and taught me how to bait my own hook. At a family reunion, when we were short on beds, he was the one who slept on the floor – wouldn’t have it any other way. He taught me to play the piano and let me play in his shed. It was his backyard where many of my happy childhood memories were made. I remember catching lightening bugs, having a fish fry, and playing baseball there. I remember sleepovers where he and my Nanny would let me stay up late and eat anything I wanted. Yes, Coca-cola was had for breakfast. He’s the best. So, I would appreciate any prayers you are willing to send his way. There’s so much I still need to learn from this man.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breaking it in…


I’ve wasted no time getting to know my new kitchen. I feel right at home in this new space.


Have I introduced you to my old friend Fannie Farmer? You really should get to know her yourself.


She makes the most amazing apple cobbler. Oh, my!  This stuff is soooo very delicious.


This morning my garden offered up Contender green beans, yellow crookneck summer squash, rosemary, tomatoes, and a Cajun bell pepper.


Sliced and roasted with a little extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, they were divine.


These will be next year’s Cajun bell peppers.


And last but certainly not least, a whole grain English muffin lightly toasted and filled with all natural sausage links and an organic brown egg.

Yes, I still enjoy washing dishes here!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Big Reveal!


When we moved into our farmhouse early last fall, we knew we had a lot of work to do.

I’m very happy to tell you that we’ve tackled our first and second major projects:

  • installing hardwood floors in the main living areas
  • remodeling the kitchen

The result is very farmhouse chic, don’t you think?


I’m very happy with the granite countertops. There was much debate on which way we would go.

In the end, we decided to invest (it really is an investment, IMHO) in the granite and rework existing cabinetry for the island.


I just love these silvery medallions featured throughout the backsplash.


And these cabinet knobs make me think of old drawer pulls on a piece of antique furniture.


My very favorite thing right now is this hardwood flooring. Sigh. I love the old farmhouse feel of it.


And this is my new favorite place. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting here right now!


I feel extremely blessed at this very moment. God is so good! My sweet husband was able to accomplish most of this work while my children and I vacationed on the beach. It would have been quite uncomfortable to live in this space (with little ones, no less!) while it was being torn apart and put back together. The house existed without a kitchen for a full week (gasp!). Now, there are no more floors to vacuum (which was impossible for me to do with my neck). No more stains on the carpet. No more worrying about children traipsing in and out the door. And to give you a little perspective on just how hard my family is on the furnishings around here…


Yep. Everything is now durable in these rooms. I am one happy mama.