Garden of Eatin’

 

Today I picked my first garden produce: rhubarb. My daughter Nellie and I enjoyed a stick of rhubarb dipped in sugar just like when I was a youngster. Eating that sweetened sour rhubarb reminded me of what heavenly delights I have to look forward to in the next few months from my garden of eatin’ :

Fresh rhubarb and sugar

Fresh rhubarb and sugar

I received my first clump of rhubarb from my elderly neighbour when I moved here 33 years ago.  I went on to give clumps to other new neighbours over the years as well.  My friend Farmgal gifted me a new clump of rhubarb a few years ago and I planted it up by my kitchen garden close to the house – today’s rhubarb was from this plant.

Mint

Mint

Who can resist mint!  In teas or just about anything else, mint is wonderful.  Drying mint for storing and winter use is easy-peasy.

Day Lillie

Day Lillie

Just days after the snow melts, day lillies begin to poke through the ground.  Within a few weeks they grow a foot tall adding lime green colour to the yard.  These bright orange flowers can be added to salads or even stir-fried.

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

I dug this wild ginger from the forest near my house.  I just adore the velvety green leaves and the delicate little flowers.  I’m sure I could eat the root if they weren’t too pretty to dig up.

Bee Balm

Bee Balm

Isn’t the flower beautiful?  At one time, I had six different colours but red is my favourite – my sister Faye gave me the original plant years ago.  Bee Balm or Bergamot is is that flowery smell of Earl Grey Tea.  It’s nice to just rub the leaves and smell it for hours.

Ginko Biloba

Ginko Biloba

I planted my ‘Ginko’ tree in honour of my first grandchild Kalia’s birth 10 years ago.   Ginko is reported to have memory-enhancing properties so I’d better start drying and using for a tea any time now.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

I planted this creeping thyme in the pathway under the arbour.  Every time I walk through that arbour, I smell that sweet smell of thyme.  I use this thyme in my soups and other recipes, even when I have to brush the new-fallen snow off.

Hops

Hops

I have several areas where Hops vines grow.  They are versatile and forgiving and create wonderful shade.  Last year, I clipped all the ripe hops off, dried them, and mailed them to my son Robin who used them in his beer making.

Apple

Apple

One of the first things I planted when we moved to this place were apple trees.   I have three remaining apple trees but only one produces apples that I love.  They make great Apple Crisp.

It’s hard to believe that only a few short weeks ago, the ground was covered in 2 feet of snow followed by 3 feet of flood water.  I can’t wait to be eating from my garden of eatin’.

 

*most pictures were taken last year

 

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Apple Crisp

100_2967Fall is here and apples are ripe. The apple tree outside my bedroom window has dropped it’s apples months ago. They usually land with a big thud (that increases as they get bigger and riper) on my metal roof and roll down then off into the garden. Another apple tree by the mudroom door was full of ripe apples, most of which we picked – these Empire Apples are my favourite. I have one more apple tree in the middle of the front yard which I leave for the other inhabitants of this land: birds, squirrels, deer, etc.
To celebrate the season, I want to share one of my favourite recipes. I love to make this Apple Crisp in the fall when the apples from my trees are ripe and juicy. It’s the perfect dessert for those cooler autumn days.

Apple Crisp
6-8 Apples                                                   1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup raisins                                            1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup water                                             1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats                                        2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

French Vanilla Ice Cream

Place sliced apples in a buttered 9″x13″ pan. Sprinkle with raisins and water. Combine the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the apples/raisins. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Serve warm with French Vanilla Ice Cream.

Kalia picking apples

Kalia picking apples

 

Making Applesauce

Last weekend we got busy making applesauce.  I have 3 apple trees out front and two of them  dropped their apples weeks ago.  The third tree, just outside my mudroom door has my favourite tasting apples.  Over half of the apples have already dropped off so I figured that we had better do something with them fast:  make applesauce!

100_3427

While 4 of my sons replaced my mudroom front door,  I climbed the ladder and picked about 20 lbs. of apples.  My granddaughters Kalia and Livi arrived just in time to help!  We got out the biggest pot and filled it with water.

cooking apples

cooking apples

Then my daughter-in-law Jeanette and I proceeded to cut the apples up into quarters, about 5 lbs. at a time, carefully removing any bad parts.  I don’t spray my apple trees with anything so they are pure and organic ……….. and often oddly shaped.  The apples boiled until they were soft then I scooped some out into my food grinder.   My granddaughters each took turns churning the food grinder around making the applesauce ooze through the bottom while keeping the remaining skins, pulp, and seeds in the grinder.  That’s the fun part!

grinding cooked apples

grinding cooked apples

After a few spins, we backed up the grinder and scooped out the leftover parts and composted them.  After all those apples were processed, Jeanette climbed the tree and picked another 25 lbs.!  We just kept making apple sauce until we ran out of time.

picking apples

picking apples

 

Afterwards, I used some of the applesauce and spread it on a  small, greased cookie sheet – I was going to make fruit leather, a.k.a. ‘fruit roll-ups’.  I spread a thin layer of applesauce and placed the cookie sheet in the oven with the oven light on.  There is enough heat produced by an incandescent light bulb to heat up an oven.  Overnight, this applesauce turned into delicious apple ‘fruit roll-ups’.  I first made this before commercial fruit roll-ups were on the market.  One of my children, Robin I think, used to take some to school in his lunch.  It was so popular with his friends, rumour has it that he sold some and made a tidy profit!  lol

Homemade apple 'roll-ups'

Homemade apple ‘roll-ups’

Applesauce was one of the first ‘solid’ foods my babies ate when they were around 6 months old.  I used to fill ice cube trays with it and freeze it.   Then I’d pop out the frozen applesauce cubes into a freezer container, put them in a bag back in the freezer, and just take one out whenever I needed it.   Today, applesauce can be used in many recipes and be substituted for oil called for in any recipe.

Summer of Drought

Early Morning

This past year has been the warmest and driest in my area in a century.  In fact, today I finally cut the grass for the first time in 4 weeks!   Most areas of grass really didn’t need mowing  (some spots had gone dormant) while only about 10%  needed a trim (in the shade of an apple tree).  Unbelievable!  I’ve never gone 4 weeks during the summer without needing to cut my grass!   One consolation was that my lawn tractor started right up since I fixed it a month ago ( read:  Lawn Tractor Repair).   I thought I’d have to rake up the cut grass since it had been so long in between cuts, but I didn’t.  I was hoping to have some “green manure” to add to my garden – darn.

My pond is down about 8 inches too, since I’ve been ‘spot watering’ some veggies with this water.

Canna Lillies LOVE heat

In mid-July, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority declared a Level 2 drought (that’s 2 of 3).  In the entire month of July we had only 12.7 mm (half an inch) of rain, smashing the previous driest July record of 35.6 mm (1.4 inches)  in 1931.  One official was quoted as saying that Ottawa was a biblical flood away from the 90.6-mm July average.”

In addition to our lack of rain, we’ve had 20 scorching-hot days with temperatures above 30C (86F) PLUS humidity which, at times, felt like the mid 40sC (113F).

Surprisingly, my winter squash seems to be fairing exceptionally well.  I’ve turned on the soaker hose (connected to a rain barrel) which weaves around the squash plants, only twice this summer.  But now that rain barrel is empty.  Even though I still don’t have any red tomatoes, my plants are doing fine with lots of green ones growing.   Potatoes, well we’ll see in a month or so when I dig some up.  Last year I was already eating garden potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis – but not this year.  I probably won’t be eating garden produced for another week or two.  Raspberries were sparse this year and their season was over almost as soon as it started.  But my new raspberry patch seems to be surviving.  And my apples that survived the killing frost in May that decimated the Apply Growing Industry,  are now suffering from heat and drought conditions and are dropping off the trees in record numbers.  So my apple harvest will be lower than usual as well.

Grass gone Dormant

I pulled the onions and garlic for replanting in the fall.  I will also replant some other veggies at the end of the month with the assumption that September will be cooler and have normal rainfall.  Am I just being perennially optimistic again?

I expect that I’ll pay more for winter storage vegetables this fall, like onions, potatoes, carrots, etc to make up the shortfall in my own garden.  I’ll be freezing every last tomato that I don’t use fresh, for use during the winter!

The sky is beginning to darken so I can only hope that we are getting some rain…….. a couple of days of nice steady rain would be nice.

Rain?????

 

 

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