Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blackberries and Beets

After a very busy weekend, I had a rare Sunday afternoon of down time.  Instead of taking a much needed nap I decided to dive into making some more of the fermented recipes I have been itching to experiment with.  I can't get enough of making these lacto-fermented foods.  They are just so yummy and easy!  Not to mention beneficial for our digestion.  So after a stroll around the orchard, some deep inhales-exhales, and a visit to the garden, I came back to the house with a big bowl of warm juicy blackberries, a whole bunch of mint (several kinds) and one gigantic red beet.  Did I say gigantic?
And yes, I usually do have better things to do than take pictures of over sized vegetables but I needed proof.  I've never seen a beet this big before. 

So in to the kitchen I go to begin my experimentation...

...which resulted in five pint jars of raw beet kraut (click here for basic kraut recipe) and two gallons of fermented soda, one blackberry and one green tea/mint.  Yummmm!  You really do have to try these...

Fermented Blackberry Soda
about 6 cups of blackberries (freshly picked or frozen)
1 gallon filtered water
2 cups whey
1 cup agave or sugar (haven't had very good results with honey)

Wash berries if fresh and add to pot with 1/2 gallon of water.  Add sweetener and simmer until sweet and berries are pretty much broken down, about 15 minutes.  Taste for sweetness.
(If not sweet enough either simmer longer or add more sweetener.)
Pour berry syrup into gallon glass jar and let cool.  Add whey and rest of water until jar is full.  Stir well, cap and let sit in a warm place for a couple of days.  Taste after a day and a half to monitor the fermentation process.  The soda should become bubbly.  I have found that 2 days tends to be plenty in warm weather, I monitor mine closely because I don't want my soda to turn alcoholic. 
Once the bubbles form, strain the soda, put into bottles and refrigerate.  Enjoy chilled on hot days.

Moroccan Mint and Green Tea Soda (adapted from suddenly sauer)
A huge handful of fresh mint (about 1/2 lb)
1 gallon filtered water
2 tbls. green tea (preferably gunpowder but I have used sencha too)
1 cup agave
2 cups whey

Wash mint.  Bring water to a boil, add sweetener, then add fresh mint and green tea.  Remove from heat, stir, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.  Pour into a gallon glass jar (leaving room for the whey) and let cool.  Cap and let sit for a couple of days to a week in a warm place until bubbles start to form.  Strain and bottle then refrigerate.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Digging in the Dirt

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance,
 the wise grows it under his feet."
-  James Oppenheim

Lately we've been eating LOTS of potatoes.  So versatile, comforting, and nutritious, these red potatoes were harvested a few days ago.  We had planted only one pound but the harvest was a full milk crate, I think I could have even left them in the ground a bit longer. 

My favorite way to use potatoes these days is to make a crust with them-for quiche, fritata or any savory pie. To do this, thinly slice several potatoes, add a generous amout of olive oil to a pie plate and arrange the slices in an overlapping spiral covering the whole dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes while you assemble other ingredients.  (This crust is also tasty made with yams.)

For a yummy, summer, vegetable pie:
1.  chop and saute any fresh garden vegi  (chard, zucchini, etc.)
2.  grate or crumble your favorite cheese over the browned potato crust (my favorite is feta)
3.  add sauted vegis on top 
4.  in a seperate bowl combine 4 eggs with 1.5 cups of half and half, whisking together.  Season egg mixture with your favorite seasoning and pour over the cheese and vegis
5.  if you're a cheese lover like mysef, grate a little more cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean
Serve with a salad and enjoy an easy, delicious meal.

harvesting the goods

Friday, July 15, 2011

Magic of Many Hands

"The softest thing in the universe overcomes
the hardest thing in the universe."
-Tao Te Ching

This week we had a little garden work party.  Only our second but I am still amazed at how fast work gets done with more help.  A few friends built raised beds in the former location of the chicken coop with hog fencing, filling them with composted manure, straw and soil.  Meanwhile many little hands (about 8 kidos) weeded the garden, thinned carrots, and played hide and seek.  We concluded with a meal and lots of laughter.  What can be better than that?  Thanks again you guys!

The pumpkin patch is now complete, we just have to decide what to plant in the new beds.  More potatoes?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Fabulous Year!

 July 1, 2011 marked our one year anniversary at Soul Flower Farm.  Wow...a year of sweat, laughter, aching muscles, amazing discoveries, hours and hours of digging, dreams realized, lots of bruises, bee stings, breathtaking views, uncountable cups of tea, wonderful neighbors, goat and chicken love, so much learning, and above all GRATITUDE!  Here are some pictures of our blessed first year as aspiring farmers...
a classic:  Yasir on his 1947 tractor

site of medicine wheel, before

medicine wheel in full bloom

Following are some pictures of the evolution of our south facing hillside.  From waist high weeds to shoulder high grains. 
 after scarification, before planting

sheet mulching, first steps

finished sheet mulched beds

Some of the beds were then double dug, some we planted into the sheet mulch.  We tried out a variety of crops to see what would grow well in our soil.

red, orange, and green amaranth, quinoa on the right


sweet  and popping corn


early pumpkin patch

Now:  zucchini, pumpkins, pink banana squash, kabocha squash and tomatoes

Original front yard turned into a perennial kitchen garden.

tree collards in kitchen garden

Lima bean tepee

lavender, mint and perennial vegis

What a year.  Much love to all of you who helped and supported us.  All the new friends, advice, and company are greatly appreciated.  We are praying for and working toward another year of growth and learning.