Monday, May 29, 2017

Dandelion Jelly

Finally, I am a believer! Round one of dandelion jelly ended like this:

What did I do, make a scoby?

After a morbidly awful first round failure, I rolled my shoulders back, put my chin up, and demanded that the kids help me forage a SECOND round of dandelion blossoms. "But, MOM!" Can you hear them? Geez Louise its as if I am forcing them into child labor. This time I was smarter and employed them to each bring a pair of scissors because this time once we picked the blossom, we would cut the bottom off right then and there, cutting our prep time down to nil! Winning!
This is the prep we had to endure the first round:
I wish I had a picture of them out in the field with their baskets. It was a very nice holiday weekend activity. We were also under the gun because SP had just left to go pick up a mower to knock down the field. As he returned he alerted us to another field, well an old logging job nearby, that was chock full of dandelions so we relinquished our hold on the home field and moved along to find new ground. We were very successful in our foraging.

This round I also used a new recipe that I found on (thanks to a member of the Food In Jars community on Facebook). The recipe found Here shows detailed pictures of how to cut the dandelions. It is far easier to use a pair of scissors that to do it with your fingers alone.

4 cups dandelion flower petals
4 cups boiling water
4 cups dandelion tea (made from the steeped petals - see below)
7 cups sugar
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 pouches liquid pectin


1. Place your dandelion petals in a heat safe container (with cover).  Cover petals with boiling water. Stir to combine. Cover (once it cools a bit) and steep overnight.

2. Drain the petals, reserving the tea.
3. Prepare your jars in a hot water canner. 
4. In a large pot (the pectin will make the jelly foam so you want room), combine the tea, sugar and lemon juice.
5. Bring mixture to a full boil.
6. Add the liquid pectin and stir constantly as it comes back to a boil.
7. Keep stirring and let it boil for one minute.
8. Remove from heat. Ladle the jelly into hot jars.
9. Affix lids and rings to the jars and place in hot water canner.
10. Process in canner for 10 minutes.

I was desperate to see if it jelled and fortunately had a bit left over that I didn't can that cooled first. By 10:00 last night, I declared the mission a success!

It really does taste just like honey!

Pickled Fiddleheads

 One of the joys of living in Maine is the multitude of things one can forage and eat. Spring is a time of a great unfolding in this state, as the abundant nature around us wakes from the slumber of winter. One prize possession the is revealed is fiddle heads. These unique edible spirals of green wonder are the baby ostrich fern.

 While all ferns have fiddleheads, it is the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) that is the unique species of edible fern. 
Image result for ostrich fern fiddleheads
SP loves to hunt down this mysterious low lying plants and bring home a bundle to be eaten. He loves to pan fry them in butter or to coat them in a batter and fry. This year he let me pickle them for Christmas treats for the family. 

I used the recipe from found Here. One of the MOST IMPORTANT things about using fiddleheads is to exercise proper cleaning of them before cooking. All that brown whispy stuff needs to be removed completely. It's very easy but you need to do a thorough job. 

  • 2 pounds fiddleheads, cleaned thoroughly
  • 1 large white onion, cut in half then sliced into ½ circles
  • 3½ cups white vinegar
  • 3½ cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 4 tsp black peppercorns
1. In a hot water canner, sterilize your jars. 
2. Put your cleaned fiddleheads into a strainer or the strainer of your pasta pot and prepare them to be blanched. 
3. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Blanch your fiddleheads in this for 3 minutes. 
4. Remove the strainer of fiddle heads and quickly cool them under running cold water. Preserve your blanching water. It is a healthy and nutritious way to water your house plants. I got 2 pitchers worth and my plants thanked me. Really, they did. 

5. Make the bring by combining the rest onion, vinegar, water, salt, garlic,  and honey in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. 
6. While the brine is coming to a boil, prepare your hot jars by adding a clove of garlic and 1/2 teaspoon each of chili flakes and peppercorns.
7.  Pack the blanched fiddle heads into your jars.  
8. Cover the fiddle heads with the brine. Leave 1/2 inch head space. 
9. Process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.  
10. Wait as long as you can before opening the jars to try them. SP only made it 24 hours. I challenge you to wait a week.


p.s. somehow I turned on text background color and I can't turn it off. Sorry. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Resistance Garden will be the best garden ever!

Due to the projected rise in food prices we are planning a garden that will sustain us thorough out the year. Our intentions are to far exceed the banner garden of the summer of 2015. Careful planning has gone into this venture with the cancellation of certain summer plans and the installation of a new fence and watering system. A lot of time and energy has gone into it so far, but I am proud to say that for the first time ever, we have the garden 90% installed. I really hope we can keep the momentum going and get in staggered crops. I also really hope that our planned road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan doesn't completely clash with the early August Harvest. Our fingers will be crossed!
Two rows of potatoes on left. Right is root row with chard.

Two rows of Brassicas - that is 24 plants total. Room for more!

2 rows with 8 Hills each for squashes. 

Tomatoes on right, two of peppers, amaranth, kale, lettuce, peas and beans to right.

From the corner by the road.

Outside row for future, deer friendly , crops

Another view of the potato row.

Sloppy pumpkin patch to be reseeded after frost.

The full shot in all its glory.

Another angle as dusk falls

New hose hanger

New gate.

Done for the day.

60 potted plants ready for secondary crops.

Mother's Day Progress on Baby's room

The electrical work is done so it is time for the sheet rock! This is real progress!
A corner and not a hole into the hall!

A hallway not a... well... progress!

The last gap to fill is the pocket door = no insulation!

My love SP has worked so hard! THANK YOU!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Early May progress on Baby's Room

Next step... smoke detectors and final wiring before sheet rock!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Making broth from Kitchen Scraps

I have been making stock recently from all the kitchen scraps from the winter, squirrelled away in the freezer in zip lock bags. I had some reluctance on my latest version because there was a bag of potatoes and I wondered how starchy it would get. To my surprise it seemed to work fairly well.

My prior versions were a chicken stock and a vegetable stock. We are looking forward to using them.

Progress on Baby's room (it still isn't done)

These pictures seem to be a calm between storms. it got all nice and cleaned up before it got insanely messy.  When will I stop calling him Baby on this blog?

Living off the Land

It's officially (and also the end of)  Fiddlehead season!

SP, my fern Frond, got these just in the nick of time. We fortunately live quite close to a lot of wet lands! I can't wait for some butter fried fiddleheads for dinner!