Archive | July 2013

Blueberry Season

pieI honestly do not think that my July would be complete without a blueberry experience!

We have eight blueberry bushes that are about 5 years old.  They produce maybe a pint total right now, which never even make in through the door.  The kids “help” with the blueberry bushes, which translates into them eating them straight off the bush.  This next winter I believe we are going to go pick up some full grown bushes.  We figure they will pay for themselves within a year or two.

Since we could not pick enough on our property we did the next best thing and go to a local pick your own farm.  We picked a little over 5 pounds of berries, which later that night became 1 gluten-free blueberry pie and nine 4oz jars of blueberry preserves.

The recipe I used for the preserves is:

  • .8oz of pectin (this is less pectin than most recipes. It was all I had, if you use more pectin you do not have to let it boil as long)
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 10 cups blueberries
  • 1 tbs butter

I processed the berries in a food processor. (It is just as easy to mash them in the pot, but I was feeling lazy) Put the berries in my stock pot with pectin, brought to a rolling boil for about a minute.  Then I added the rest of the ingredients, brought them to a boil and let them boil for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The jam passed the plate jell test, (which is putting a spoon full of jam on a cool plate, letting the hot jam cool, and run your finger through it.  If it does not run back together it is jelled and ready to can.)

I processed them in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

It turned out wonderfully.  It was thick and sweet, but still had the tartness on the back of the tongue that I love about blueberries.

I baked a gluten free blueberry pie at the same time.  The recipe for that is:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 10 tbs frozen butter, grated
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and grate the butter on top.  Slowly mix together, then add the water.  Mix it as little as possible.  Separate into two balls and put in the fridge until you are ready for it.

The Blueberry Pie filling;

  • 5 cups blueberries.  ( I prefer fresh, but frozen work well too)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup potato flour, or corn starch
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Mix everything together and set aside.

Roll out one ball of pie crust, put it in a pie pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the blueberry filling and then roll out the other crust and top.  Cut slits in the top. Place pie pan on top of cookie sheet with sides.  (The pie will boil over, I have only managed to not do that once!)  Bake for 60 minutes or until crust starts to turn golden brown.  Egg wash the top with a mix of 1 egg beaten, and tbs sugar. Bake about another 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely then serve.  It should set up wonderfully and not be too runny.

Enjoy your blueberries and let me know how everything turns out. I would love to hear how it worked in your kitchen.

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Tomatoes

We have had a wonderful tomato season.  Our tomato plants are 6 feet tall and we are picking tomatoes everyday.  In the past we have only grown enough tomatoes for sandwiches and salads, the kids would eat them faster than I could save enough to can them.  Today, I finally had enough tomatoes that I needed to can them or they would go bad, we just could not eat them all. I was finally going to make salsa from the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and herbs that I grew on my property.  I was so excited.  My mother-in-law and I spend the morning processing produce.  I did not chop the tomatoes small enough and I chopped the peppers and the onions too small, we ended up with every watery salsa.  9 jars of very watery salsa, I was so disappointed.  Finally here I was canning my own produce and I messed it up.

Instead of throwing away all these tomatoes that we worked so hard to grow, we water bathed canned the tomato mixture and I will just use it as a soup base.  It will work great in chili, tortilla soup and vegetable soup.  I hope that my tomato plants continue to grow and produce more tomatoes so we can get another chance to make salsa.  When I create the perfect salsa recipe I will make sure to post it.

Here are some pictures of my amazing tomato plants.  A little rabbit poop goes a long way, it certainly helped these plants grow big and strong. Summer 2013 phone 1034Summer 2013 phone2 003 Summer 2013 phone2 001 Summer 2013 phone2 002

 

Spa Day

Oh blogging how I have missed you.  I am not even going to try and explain where I have been for the past year, just know I am happy to be back!

So summer is in full swing. Our garden is growing wonderfully.  We get a basket of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers every day.  We have already harvested one planting of potatoes, our spring peas, green beans, soy beans, and blue berries.  We have more peas, carrots, cantaloupes, butternut squash, pumpkins, garlic and beets that are still growing.

We started with a new batch of a dozen chickens this spring and they have started laying.  We get about 10 eggs a day. We have three new rabbits, American Chinchillas to be specific,  that we added to the farm this winter and they have 15 very cute baby bunnies that are 4 weeks old now.  We will be selling them in 2 weeks.

OK now that everyone is up to date… On to Spa Day at our small farm.  We had a mamma rabbit that had some fur matting that need to be cleaned.  It was very warm this weekend so we thought that a bath would help clean her fur as well as cool her down.  Not ever having given a rabbit a bath, I was not really sure how this would go.  I expected clawing, biting and that it would look more like bathing a cat.  I however, was greatly surprised.  The rabbit seemed to enjoy the bath.  She did not try and get out of the utility sink, she did not try to climb my arm.  She was just happy to just sit there.  At first I just assumed it was because this was my very easy going rabbit, but when I then bathed the “jumpy”  rabbit she was quit content to just be bathed as well.

I think that this is something we will do after all their litters are old enough for us to be messing with mamas.  The reason we had to bath mama in the first place was left over afterbirth.   She was having some hair matting and skin breakdown.  We bathed her using mild soap, clipped the mats and applied A and D ointment to the skin.  We did not use soap on the rabbit that did not have any matting, we just used the water to clean her up and cool her down.  Since this did not seem stressful to the rabbits, I think that we will do it again to help keep those hard to reach places nice and clean.

Since it was deemed a “Spa Day” we did not want to leave anyone out, we also bathed a chicken.  We have two chicken coops that share the same outside area.  The coops are made to fit 6 chickens a piece very comfortably.  Our chickens are “special”  and they have decided to cram all together in one small coop.  There is just not the roosting space that they need, so there is one chicken that has taken to roasting right under the other chickens.  I noticed that she was “dirtier” than the others, especially on her belly, since she spent all night sitting in other chickens poop!  So we brought her inside and rinsed her off as well.  Again I would have expected a very upset chicken.  She was totally O.K. with it.  She seemed to enjoy the one-on-one attention and the wash down.  Who knew?

So, now everyone is clean, toe nails clipped, bottoms washed and cages cleaned.  It was a wonderful day on the farm!  Here are some pictures of the bath experience!

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