Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Independence Days Update #6 (ish)

1. Plant something – This past weekend, we planted the balance of the corn and some beans in places where no beans sprouted. Other than that, not much. We do still have a few cherry tomato plants that need transplanting and a few squash varieties (winter ones) that can go out into the garden any time now. We hope to get these out this week.

2. Harvest something – Tons and tons of kale, swiss chard and spinach. Also a few herbs here and there, a couple of strawberries as snacks while in the garden and a handful of peas (our first!).

3. Preserve something - Dried two dehydrators full of kale and spinach this weekend. The rest got cooked (see #7). I did one batch by blanching it first and the second batch by just drying. Then I rehydrated a leaf from each to see which turned out better. Both worked well enough but I think the blanched version was more successful. I also finally tasted the milk that I canned a few weeks ago. It tasted totally different than I thought it would! From the color, it looks a bit carmelized, so I expected it to be a little sweet. It totally wasn’t at all. It was almost cheesy tasting. Certainly not good for just drinking, but I saved the jar I opened and I’m going to try using it for cooking to see how that works. The taste wasn’t too far off, so I imagine it’ll work fine. The texture was at least good – which is more than I can say for what you get when you freeze raw milk. Ick.

4. Reduce waste – This was pretty funny. After I’d removed all the tough stems on the kale to dehydrate it, I had a huge pile wrapped in a dish towel. I went to take it out to the compost but walked by the goats on my way. I thought ‘lets see if they like this’ and sure enough, Sass almost knocked the whole pile out of my arms in her enthusiasm so gobble it up. Ok, note to self, goats first…compost second! We have also been diligent about keeping on top of the milk production and anything too goaty for us goes to the chickens. This reduces how much feed we need to buy. In fact, we found that throwing the leftover whey from yogurt and cheese making into old milk makes a nice gloppy mess that the chickens go nuts over!

5. Preparation and Storage – We moved our little wine fridge down to the basement (where it’s cooler and therefore has to work less) and then removed all the wine. Our basement is the perfect 60 degrees for red wine (year-round), so we don’t need the cooler. Instead, we lowered the temp until it was at 50 F and now use it for ageing our cheese which needs the slightly cooler temps. Excellent!

6. Build Community Food Systems – We traded goats milk for a big ole bag of cherries off a friend’s tree. Our cherry trees aren’t really producing yet, so this was a huge help to us (plus, they can only eat so many!). I made a pie and hope to dehydrate some with the next exchange. Our friends are using the goats milk to make yogurt.

7. Eat the Food – Cherry pie: delicious! Swiss Chard tuna salad: YUM! Swiss chard and artichoke dip: awesome!! Kale and corn: from this book "A New American Plate Cookbook".

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