Tally HO! And in the Kitchen

WOWSERS! The tally for July is in and a big surprise!

Eggs, 102, which is down a bit from previous months. That isn’t really a surprise, since it has been so hot, the hens have been in a bit of a moult, which always lowers production.

alfalfa & comfrey, which I grow for the rabbits and chickens: 4.8 pounds

Produce: 101.75 That is the big surprise. The bulk of the poundage has been potatoes, tomatoes and onions, but includes strawberries, several kinds of beans, swiss chard, tomatillos, peppers, cucumbers, Tromboccino squash, eggplant, basil, apples, watermelon, mesquite beans [which will be ground into a flour when really crispy dry,  high in protien with a sweet lemon taste] and baby corn.

And there is more to come. It has been too hot for the lima beans to set pods, but as soon as it cools off a bit I think we’ll have lots, the cukes and yard long beans are just now hitting their stride. The baby corn is just coming in, to the girls delight [they’ve been waiting all summer for baby corn and are eating it raw!] The Kabocha squash will probably tote up a lot of poundage, there’s the yellow Moon & Stars and the Jubilee watermelons, the cantaloupes, a couple of kinds of pole beans, peppers and eggplants, to say nothing of the fact that there are still potatoes in their pots.  While it’s been too hot for the large paste tomatoes to set new fruit, once the daytime temps stay under 90, they should set a lot.

So it is quite possible for Aug and Sept to show even more poundage than July.

Each time I go to the grocery store my list gets shorter and shorter, partly due to the produce coming in from the garden. Part of it is because I am making more and more things from scratch at home. For instance milk was very cheap when I went shopping yesterday so I picked up an extra gallon and it is ‘ripening’ right now to make cottage cheese. I have found a really delicious brand of yogurt and while I am also going to begin making my own, especially when milk is cheap, it was on sale too so I got extra. The extra carton is now draining to make ‘yogurt cheese’. This is a soft and creamy spreadable ‘cheese’ to which I will add fresh herbs and eat on crackers.

Peelings, cores and bruised bits of apples sit in a gallon jar becoming vinegar. The cucumber crop is in various jars becoming fermented dill pickles. Scott eats tons of mayo so that is another one I’ll start making at home. He also loves garlic and I have a garlic mayo recipe to try out on him.

I’ve really been disappointed with BBQ sauce and salad dressings since I started really reading labels. Also with ketchup. They all have tons of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup in them along with chemicals I can’t pronounce.  This makes most of them way too sweet and of course any non organic corn product is likely to be genetically modified, something I don’t want to eat. So I have been experimenting with making my own sauces. One really good one has been garlic & ginger. When I get it tweaked just right I’ll post it here.

Back to Basics

A lot of folks are getting back to basics these days. Around here that means pickle making, canning tomatoes, drying fruits, vegetables and herbs. It means making our own bisquick type mix for biscuits and pancakes, with 100% whole wheat flour, making 100% whole wheat noodles. It means trying to get rid of all the plastic in our life. This has been really hard to do. I didn’t realize how pervasive plastic is. For now I’ve stopped buying plastic wrap and just have reusable plastic containers. I also recycle anything I get from the store. I don’t usually use aluminum foil either.

Once upon a time I didn’t buy any household cleaners or paper towels and I’m going back to that again. I used baking soda instead of comet and diluted ammonia and vinegar for different things. I also made my own soap. I used paper grocery sacks instead of paper towels to drain bacon on and just used washable rags and dish towels for cleaning up instead of paper towels.

I have some different books that give recipes for different mixes which I’m going to be trying out. I used to make my own soup mix. When ever I had extra bits of celery, onions, carrots, etc. I’d dry them and put them in a jar. Then toss them in a couple of quarts of home canned chicken stock along with some rice or noodles and it was soup.

Way back when I could buy chicken for 25 CENTS ! a pound, I’d buy a dozen whole fryers, go home and cut them up for the freezer. I’d save all the necks, ribs, wings and tail pieces, boil them up with bay leaves, onions and garlic, then strain out the bones. Pick off the meat and put it back in, then can it all up in quart jars. If you have freezer space you can always freeze it.

There are a lot of little money saving things you can do every day. Learn to cook from scratch and skip all the packaged stuff. You will eat better food and save a lot of money.

The internet is a great resource; cruise around and you will find recipes for anything you want, soap, candles, snacks, crackers, breads, the list is endless.

Tally Ho! June 2009

I forgot to post the harvest numbers for June, so here they are:

Eggs: 104

Produce 24.37 pounds, lots of the small fruited tomatoes like Imur Prior Beta, Princepe Borhese, Yellow Marble, Snow White, Red Currant and Yellow Pear, some potatoes, Yukon Gold, Purple Peruvian, Red LaSoda. Green onions, lambs quarters, chard, a pound of wheat, some purple beans, some herbs of different sorts, a couple of Black Beauty eggplants.

Alfalfa & Comfrey for the rabbits and chickens, 2.3 pounds fresh wet weight.

Just a glance at the numbers for July, I think we are already close to the total for June, so the total should be a lot bigger this month. While the small fruited tomatoes continue to come in, the big paste tomatoes are coloring up. I’ve harvested the white storage onions, and they are curing now. There’s more potatoes to come and more little purple and yellow beans coming on. Oh and don’t forget the cukes! They are just getting started.

Even though it’s 100+ degrees this week, it’s time to start thinking about the fall garden and what we want to grow during the cool season. I’ve already made a list and soon it will be time to start the seeds.

So How’s your garden growing? Are you free of the grocery store yet? Beat the high price of food by growing your own!