This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

Another awkward summer week of limited childcare, evening shifts, and general overwhelm, so I really have to give myself (and C, for his part) a small pat on the back for somehow managing to keep us all fed (and photographed to join Heather for This Week in My Kitchen blog hop):

kitchen2

Smoothies are the staple around here, especially in the warmer months. We have so much kefir now that I have to keep up on the culture every day, and prefer to dress it up rather than drink it straight. I keep it simple, and just throw bananas, berries (still using up frozen from last year’s picking!), and sometimes nut butter, coconut oil, and/or flax. The extra gets poured into popsicle molds for cool probiotic treats anytime.

kitchen3

So, the oven is broken. Again. It needs a new, expensive part, so I’m not sure how long it will be, but if I can get my hands on a cast iron pizza pan, then my whole world will change. Because, really, my first thought was…but pie season has only just begun! As long as the grill holds out, we may make it through just fine. With pie.

kitchen1

No kitchen post would be complete without sharing whatever wound up in a jar this week. Our lemon balm patch is diminishing…weird, I know, but there it is. I was only able to harvest just enough for one batch of our new (since last year) family favorite, Honey Lemon Balm Jelly, but no more for drying. Although Heather says this “isn’t really the kind of jelly one would slather between two slices of bread with some peanut butter,” that is our preferred way to use it! Of course, it’s wonderful with soft cheese on crackers, especially a tangy chevre, but for school lunches and on-the-go snacks, cheeses never fare well (for us). If you make this, please do give it a try with nut butter, also! The sweetness is subtle and the herbal bouquet soothing. It’s like delicious tea that you can spread. I’m encouraged now to try it with other teas, like earl grey…anything that wouldn’t be too weird with lemon juice.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

the things that are okay. good, even.

The last several weeks have brought many challenging and painful moments, from the usual blah blah financial hardships blah blah to the extremes of loss and all the dark and deep contemplation that accompanies death and moving on. I’m tired. But, I am alive, and I am healthy, as are those who are closest to my heart. I am simply exhausted of the many reminders this year that every moment we find ourselves to be alive and healthy is a moment to be celebrated and treasured. I know this, but it’s easy to forget amongst the daily grind, and the forgetting is often met, eventually, with a hard slap to the heart. So, you know, time to (wo)man up and just fucking celebrate or, at the very least, acknowledge. Here are some good things immediately in front of me:

harvestweb

  • There’s enough garlic hanging from my porch rafters to get us through until next year’s harvest.
  • Onion greens are soft and silky and so much less a beast to braid than hardneck garlic. Our onions may be small, but we weren’t able to grow them at all last year, so it’s a step forward.

gardenblog1

  • I’m attempting a fall crop of shelling peas. I have no idea if it will work, as it depends on when Jack Frost brings the icy hammer down, but just getting them in the ground felt pretty good. I have faith that the odds are in my favor.
  • The boy is suddenly reading. And, I mean really reading. The kind of reading where we have to ask him about fifty times to please put the book down and come to the dinner table. That kind. I find it hard to be exasperated because I think it’s awesome.

gardenblog2

  • This was supposed to be a garden post, hence a photo of my weed-ridden cabbage patch. The good thing here is that I’m not beating myself up for not keeping a pristine garden with our busy schedules. At least I can see the cabbage plants.
  • I actually wanted to spin this week, after not touching my wheel for months. I haven’t sat down to it yet, but the feeling was there, which is a damn good thing seeing as how I’m teaching at Fiber College next month and was feeling less-than-inspired to create samples and a new template for my class. I’m getting excited about it again. Phew.

gardenblog3

  • Some of my basil looks like this, but some of it doesn’t. I feel okay about this for at least two reasons. I already made a ton of garlic scape pesto, so whatever I manage with the basil is a bonus. And secondly, tomatoes aren’t near ready yet.
  • I think it may be possible to woo our baby girl goat with raisins.

bluetomsblog

  • C is taking down a barn in a neighboring town and bringing it to our place. I want to paint it the color of these cherry tomatoes.
  • We thought we lost one of our ducks, but then discovered she was nesting under our bedroom window. No super-sleuthing skills required. She made her whereabouts known by demanding to be fed at 5:30am with loud outbursts of quacking. Under our bedroom window. This will continue for the next four weeks, if she’s lucky enough to survive outside the coop for that long. Odds are sketchy around here, but we deserve a lucky break. DUCKLINGS ARE GOOD THINGS.

teepeeweb

  • I have managed to grow two healthy axolotls from eggs. They make me smile every day and will require their own post at some point.
  • I’m hosting a batt sale, and also a giveaway on my Facebook page, so stay tuned for a chance to win a fiber prize.

And now, I’m tired. So, good night Ezra, Molly, and Michael. You touched my heart, and I’ll hold you there. May peace come to all those who feel the pain of your passing, and may all of us left behind celebrate daily the good things in our life.

granola1

And good night to Granola, a sweet little lass we were hoping to have here on our wee farm for a long time.

  • One more very good thing of note: our neighbors. Such a blessing to live where we do. When my fingers wouldn’t work to untangle her little body from the fence netting, where she’d wrapped herself too fatally tight in a panic, helping hands came to take care of the unpleasant business. And yet more helping hands came to bandage another of our goats who was wounded during whatever goat-crazy happened while I was away from home. We take care of each other here, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

What are you grateful for today?

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop (and Lemon Blueberry Pie Kefir Ice Cream…whaaaatt??!?)

So, it’s that time again, already (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen), and there was a week of radio silence in between. Hmmm…reasons for that:

1) Loss and heavy feelings to process these last few weeks, mainly on the periphery of intersecting circles of friends, but it brings up some emotions I had no idea were still so raw. It makes anything I might want to share seem pithy and it becomes easier to just shut down.
2) Working on the launch of a new project somewhat related to Luminous Traces, which has become the Luminous Traces Collective so that I can use the former name as my new business name. Confused? I’ll clear that up soon.
3) I have to put in odd hours at the day job because of this Summer Vacation nonsense. Year-round school makes so much damn sense. At least in my little family, the dreaded SV requires a monumental rearrangement of routine and much less time with each other as I have to make up working hours at night or on weekends.

But, we managed to make delicious things and eat them, together and apart:

boozyberries

It’s blueberry picking season in the northeast, so every week there will be berry projects. Each time we go, I try to just pick one thing to make with the fresh berries, and store the rest in the freezer for winter. The first excursion yielded one blueberry pie, one quart jar of fermented berries in honey (which is as easy as the name suggests: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.

honeyblog

Fermented berries seemed like the perfect way to use some of the “extra” honey we ended up with after extracting. This is how much was left in the bucket and filter when we set to cleaning them!

kefirblog

There is now enough milk every day to keep milk kefir grains happy. I love its effervescence, and it’s great for smoothies, salad dressings, or anything in which I would use yogurt. It also makes amazing ice cream.

kefiricecreamblog

We followed this recipe for Lemon Kefir Ice Cream, which was pretty exciting because the two main ingredients, kefir and honey, came from our own backyard. We didn’t stop there, though. You see, we had leftover blueberry pie. I know, I know…how does one have leftover blueberry pie? You must understand that we are a family of merely three, and our entire extended family is all 3,000 miles away. They cannot come help us eat pie at the drop of a hat. We often freeze half a pie when we make one, but I didn’t this time, and why not have pie and ice cream at the same time?

Yeah, I felt pretty brilliant.

kefiricecreamblog2

Basically, we just followed the ice cream recipe (quadrupled, because why make 1/2 quart of ice cream when you can make 2 quarts?) and when it came to the point in the ice cream churning when it was thickened up and nearly done, I chopped up the leftover pie into bits, crust and all, and C churned just a wee bit more to blend it all in.

The texture is perfect, as is the pairing of lemon and blueberry pie. Make this, please.

In other news, I was here yesterday (speaking of Luminous Traces Collective). Our theme this week is Parallel Lines.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

So, I might have to rename this blog Brine and Stuff in Jars, because most of what happened this week in my kitchen (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen) is sitting in brine in jars.

radishpickle

dillybeans

sauerkraut

A Clean-Out-the-Fridge pickle ferment with radishes, the last of the garlic scapes, carrots, dill, and probably a few other odds and ends; Dilly Beans using the perfect, hasn’t-failed-me-yet recipe I will forever be grateful to have stumbled upon; Good Ol’ Sauerkraut with green and red cabbage and a sprinkling of caraway seeds.

chocolatemint

herbs

mintdrying

There are now herbs in jars, as well. Oregano and chocolate mint, so far. We use these all year long, and I’m hoping to go heavier on the mint this year, as I ran out before springtime and, well…that just doesn’t work for me. If there’s still snow on the ground, I want hot mint tea. It’s sort of a joke around here, asking me “What kind of tea would you like?” Ugh, predictable. Anyway, we made it with the garlic (harvest to harvest), so I’m determined to keep myself in mint, too. I prefer to hang dry, but in this humidity, I finish it off with a couple hours in the dehydrator, just to be sure it’s free of moisture before I store it. In jars.

pesto

I did not forget I promised a pesto recipe, but here’s the thing. It all went direct to freezer, and I was hoping to photograph it on some gorgeous meal. I will admit this here and now: I overdid it on the garlic scape consumption these last two weeks. Absolutely every meal has been drenched in the compound butter and so I haven’t had any desire to use the pesto right now. I find it most comforting and delicious in the cooler months when I’m craving something bright green and tasting of hot days in the garden, anyway, so I’ve put it all by.

I’m going to make it easy and just provide some pesto tips. Really, you can incorporate garlic scapes into any of your favorite pesto recipes, using it in place of garlic, replacing up to 1/3 of your herb/green of choice.

For straight-up garlic scape pesto, I simply roughly chop scapes and fill my food processor to capacity. Whirr them ’round until minced fine, and then it’s play time. A lot depends on the intensity of your scapes, but I like to add about a cup of walnuts or whatever nuts I have on hand. I found the most recent blend with cashews to have a nice flavor. The sweetness of cashews and/or pecans is a nice compliment to the bite of fresh garlic. Next is a generous splash of lemon juice, and then with the machine running, I add oil until the consistency is like a thick paste or batter. Mostly, I go traditional and use the best quality olive oil I can afford (read: whatever organic extra virgin is on sale), but I ran out half way through this batch and made up for the rest with avocado oil. It’s nice! Now comes the part where you have to taste it and add salt, pepper, and possibly more lemon juice.

Because I made this batch intending it to go straight to the freezer, I did not add cheese. It is lovely without it, but often, I will add finely grated Romano to the thawed pesto before using it, in a 1:1 ratio. I highly recommend freezing your pesto in ice cube trays and then transferring to a freezer bag, btw. You’ll get to know how many cubes you need for specific uses. For example, I use three cubes for pizza, two for making pesto burgers, one for omelettes, etc.

Oh, and also a day late was my installment for this week on Luminous Traces. Our topic/prompt is Skin. Enjoy!

One Shot :: 19 and This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

honey

This shot of pure, liquid gold in the afternoon light required no editing. We lost our bees, but what a precious gift they left behind. It took months, but we finally borrowed an extractor and liberated sweetness from the hive frame graveyard.

daylily saute

Today, I’m joining Heather for This Week in My Kitchen.

This week contained many a garden meal. I realize a garden post is well past due, but it’s not quite peak and there is so much that has such a very long way to go yet, that I’m not sure it would be interesting. Peas are happening, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ve harvested the last garlic scape. Our first round of greens have all bolted, so when I learned that daylilies could beef up my scape/pea saute instead of the bok choi I’d set out to harvest, I had to give it a try.

It’s so simple I can’t even pretend to give you a recipe. Snow peas and garlic scapes sauteed in butter, with daylily buds added in the last two minutes, whole flowers in the last thirty seconds. Salt and pepper, and you’re there. So good.

scapebutter

Speaking of butter, I am still in the midst of preserving oodles and oodles of scapes, and while most of them will go into the pesto recipe I’ll share tomorrow, and mixed vegetable ferments, I used them the other day for this compound butter. I didn’t bother with mincing or sauteing, but just threw 12 raw scapes into the food processor, whizzed ‘em around a bit, and then added a 1/2 pound of softened butter. And yes, I’ll be holding back at least another 12 from tomorrow’s pestofest so I can make another batch of this stuff. We’ve been using it every morning to cook our eggs in, and tonight I’ll use it to baste chicken on the grill.

scapebutter2

scapetoast

Oh, and it tastes delicious on heart-shaped bread, too.

What’s going on in your kitchen?

Luminous Traces is back!

…and is now the Luminous Traces Collective!

 

mineral

 

Summer is a most glorious time of year to re-start this collective project. We have a full roster of contributors and near-daily posts! This week’s theme is Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. If you enjoy creative prompts, please do consider becoming a guest contributor. Follow LTC, as I’ll be posting a call for guests later this week, with a preview of the upcoming weekly themes for the season.

If you are a friend of LTC on Facebook, you may have noticed that the “Collective” part of the name is a new addition. Luminous Traces is becoming the name for my own personal photography work and shop (coming soon!), and the Collective is the group project for challenging, creative fun.

So, I’ve been busy resuscitating that, and also making plans for the next Rest of My LIfe. I left one hint already…perhaps some of the rest can be inferred, but I promise to expound on that very soon.

Remember when this blog used to be about yarn? I’m thinking about spinning some this week…
I’m already out of the Tour de Fleece before I even started. Oh, well.

This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

scapes

Joining Heather today for This Week in My Kitchen.

The last week and a half has been a jumble of four schedules and two cars, and if, like us, you live at least a half hour away from the nearest everything, then you know how little time there is for anything else besides planning for driving and actually driving. Somehow, I managed to keep everyone fed, except for the day they fed me (to celebrate another trip ’round the sun…whoosh!…more on that later), but I did not photograph it. Really, I just felt lucky to have a few moments each night to sit with my family and enjoy a meal together before the rush of bedtime for animals and child, and preparing for the next day.

goatyogurt

One of the things that happened amidst the comings and goings was that we finally got things set up in the goat house to keep the babies separated at night. This means we get the morning milk; a half gallon every day! We have not yet been able to encourage the young ones out to pasture, but the mamas have no problem leaving the littles to their own devices for the day, so perhaps we’ll soon have them fully weaned. Mama’s Day Out consists of rotating browse, and then they come home to ridiculous, violent nursing. I recall some days like that in my own life as a working mother of a nursing babe…

Pictured above is the first yogurt experiment with milk from our girls. Three quarts, brought to 180 degrees and then cooled to 110 before adding starter. I’ve made hundreds of quarts of successful yogurt with raw cow’s milk, but I find it to be much trickier with goat. Precise temperature seems to be much more important, as is the incubation time. We’ll see how I did when I make this morning’s smoothie.

Stay tuned for some ideas for using garlic scapes, of which I’ve just harvested a bazillion. Pesto is a favorite all year long, so I’ll be whipping up several batches today to put in the freezer, as well as brainstorming some ferment projects.

What’s happening in your kitchen?