I have been dehydrating veggies and fruits for several years and I have found ways to use what I have dried but I am not sure I am using what I dry to the fullest advantage. Last winter, I started adding dried spinach to soups and salads. I found there was never any complaints about what is this in my food or what do I taste that is different. With the adding the spinach into salad dressing and dips. once again, I enjoyed what I was doing and received compliments about the interesting tastes I was developing. So this year, we are drying spinach, onions and garlic to add to spice blends and zests for our many different soups. I have learned if you want to make a hearty and filling soup add these dried items, the soups just seem to come alive with flavor and the texture of the soup is a little thicker without having a roux base. Yes, I am always looking for ways to make my day a little easier and please those I cook for.
IN THE KITCHEN
I pulled out the recipes I was working on last winter for soups which I added ingredients from the freezer, canned and dehydrated. I have always known if I do not have a way to use something it does me no good to take my time preserving it for use at a later date. One of my main projects has been a great northern bean soup with homemade sausage, lots of onion, celery, carrots, garlic, I use a quart of bloody Mary mix or tomato juice for my base, fill the flavor with dried green onions and spinach. This is one hardy pot of soup. This is my recipe and I am so pleased is was accepted well. When I serve this, I put a wedge of corn bread in the bottom of the soup bowl and pour this mixture over the corn bread. I will continue working on this until I have some measurements to share with you. When I am working on a recipe I do cook a lot like my Momma did and forget to measure everything.
ON THE FARM
We started adding hay in the barn this week, there is always some there but I knew the cold was coming and I wanted the ladies to eat hay to help keep them warm at night. They are continuing to free range in the afternoon, I am not sure if they will want to come out after all the leaves have fallen. Lady Gracie has found the Virginia spiderwort plants, I knew the deer would eat them down to the ground and now I can add goats to this list. One evening this week, she found more spiderwort and Mr. Bootsie had to take her grain bowl and show it to her before she would return to the barn, I know she was saying, but Daddy this is so good, fresh and green. If I leave it the deer may get it tonight.
IN THE COOP
Outside the coop has been getting some attention as the falling leaves will weigh down the covers of the runs. Mr. Bootsie informed me it was time to blow the leaves off the top. Now, all of you know the girls really love this. So I open the gate to the runs and he fired up the leaf blower which in turn has 17 chickens flying, running and trotting past me. The ducks were waddling so fast they were falling over their own feet. Everyone had that what are you doing to me look and I am never, never coming back in there so you can do that to me again. Of course, the goats did not know what was going on and here they come to offer their support to the girls. The girls, who don't want anything from the goats except space and for them to stay in their pasture were not pleased. So, the girls take off again heading for their safe space which is howling and leaves are flying. It was a wild few minutes and we will be having a few more of these events before all of the leaves are off the trees. I just think I will keep the goats in there pasture and not let them free range with the girls while Mr. Bootsie is blowing leaves.
The temperature fell on this week, I made my personal goal, the peeps are in the coop with big girls, on the roosting poles and all is good. Food is still somewhat of an issue but we are working through this. It will take longer to have them eating from the same bowls, as I am thinking I may need to add another bowl for all of these girls and 1 little guy. There has been a smile on our faces because once again we have merged the flock without issues. The brooder has been taken out of the coop, cleaned and stored for the winter.
IN THE GARDEN
Frost is coming, prepare, We did it all. The tunnel cover went on and all the floating row covers are in place. Some small beds of greens have been covered. I must say this year went like we had a plan. I may pushed the bullet not cleaning the tunnel a little long, but, we made it. I gleamed the garden, mulched some of the onions and now I am waiting for the results of two cold nights below the freezing mark. Saturday morning check everything looked as if we may have saved our garden for a few more days. I do not pick the last of the butter beans until the frost has hit the vines. I left a few peppers but very few incase there is Indian Summer. Now as I play the waiting game each thing I find will be a treasure. The tunnel has some plants in it and next week I will be adding to the tunnel. By late Saturday afternoon, I knew Mother Nature had won with the freeze on Friday night. The climbing spinach looked as if I had cooked it on the vines. Butter beans has some burnt leaves but I think I may be able to pick what is remaining on the vines. Pole beans were burnt from the cold. But the winter garden is looking good. Parsnips have been waiting for the frost, this is my first time to grow them and I will be digging some to see if I or the moles are going to have parsnips.
I must stop and reflect because this year has been our best garden ever. To remind us they are still here, another raccoon was caught this week and relocated to our friend's river farm. With all of the problems we had, there was a good harvest, we did loose some of our crops but I can't dwell on that. We did harvest quite a lot of vegetables, we have eaten from the garden all summer, have quite a bit stored away for winter and next spring. I have learned more about preserving our harvest and how to use it. When are the seed books coming to my mail box? I can hardly wait to see the new selections and learn about some old ones being returned to the market. I have a few items I have been searching for and I will be on the net hoping one of the seed houses has located some of the plants I treasure. But, first I am going to have to clean my house, get things ready for the holidays and dream about what our future holds. Next week I know I have to help with the gathering of some firewood, It never stops!!!!
Have a wonderful week, stay healthy, keep smiling, spring is on its way!!!!