Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Dehydrate Strawberries

Dehydrating Strawberries

 It is strawberry season!  The only thing I don't like is that the season is sooo short!  I just love strawberries!  They are one of my favorite fruits and my very favorite berry.  Shocking isn't it?  I really like other berries and hope to be growing some blueberries and blackberries soon.  But you can bet I am going to have to put in a strawberry bed too!  

I'm not lucky enough (yet) to be growing my own strawberries.  Lots of folks are in the same situation.  Even if you don't grow the dang things you sure can make good use of them.  Don't let folks tell you otherwise.  Watch for sales at your local grocery store or visit your farmer's market.  My plans are to pick up as many as I can afford.  I'll eat as many fresh as I possibly can , dry some to put on my cereals or whatever and make jelly with the rest. Lot's of folks freeze them but I try not to use my freezer for them.  Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just don't do it.

One of the ways I like to preserve them is to dehydrate them. It's super easy to do and even the prep time isn't all that bad.  Just core your strawberries and slice them evenly. (about  1/4 inch slices)  Place them on your dehydrator trays.  Don't let them touch, you want the air to circulate around them.   

   Kinda like having the kids in the car yelling "She's touching me- make her stop touching me!!" OK ... what was I sayin'?  Oh yeah,  Set your dehydrator at about 135 degrees and dry until they are dry to the touch and still a little pliable.  Let them cool and then store them in a canning jar or a zip-lock bag.  My suggestion for those of you who have a Vacuum Sealer is to vacuum seal them in a canning jar and store them in a cool dark place.

They are great to eat by the handful for a yummy snack.  They are also wonderful in oatmeal or your favorite cereal.  Try them in your baked goods too!  I made a yummy strawberry cake a while back with dried fruit.  Kids love them too so if you want to keep them around you might want to "hide" them somewhere!  LOL

Monday, May 27, 2013

                                                              Thank You


Friday, May 24, 2013

This, That and The Other

I've had to make a little change in the way comments are posted here.  I hate to do it and have tried many different ways to avoid having to restrict comments here.  I know there are folks out there who refuse to "sign up" to any of the reader programs.  I understand your reasons for it and I respect that.  Unfortunately I just can't keep this option open anymore.  Be sure to tell your favorite spammer "Thanks for Nothing".

Look on the bright side though.  At least I don't have that stupid word verification set up.  That thing will keep me from commenting on blogs that I love. (Not that I comment much anyway.) 

The sun is finally out here again.  Here it is the end of May and it feels more like April.  I'm itching to get out in the garden but it's still to wet to do anything out there.  So I sit and watch the weeds grow.  Boy do they grow!  Hopefully the rain will stay away for a couple of days so it can dry out some.  There is much to be done out there when it does.  The bugs don't seem to mind the mud at all and the whole garden needs to be sprayed.  I've got my handy dandy sprayer filled with my pepper/soap mixture standing by.  Maybe it will dry out enough in the next couple of days and I can get out there and take care of business!

I'm happy to say that we've been eating salads from the garden!  Well, lettuce anyway.  More stuff on the way.  I've become somewhat of a snob regarding store bought tomato's.  I refuse to buy them.  My grandmother used to call them "plastic" tomato's.  I'll wait for mine to come in.  Till then I just add what ever comes to mind for a quick salad. Onions, celery, carrots...etc but NO PLASTIC TOMATO'S!  

And speaking of tomato's I need to try and start some for the fall.  It takes them a couple of months more or less to be ready to plant.  From the looks of things around here I'm really going to have to try for a productive fall garden to make up for the lost time this spring.   I'll try to get some broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and stuff started as well.  I'm also wanting to start some more pepper plants.  I've had some bad luck with getting them up and going in the past.  Then I learned that they have to be planted in warm soil.  As in 75 degrees. I have a feeling that's where my problem lays. I also learned that peppers planted in containers and protected during the winter will produce for a couple of years.  So now that we've got the greenhouse I just might be able to keep some growing. 

  I don't know exactly what I did differently in planting the spinach this year. Whatever it is I need to do it again. It's growing like gangbusters for the first time!   We've had spinach for a couple of meals so far.  I'm looking forward to more.  Lot's more! Once things dry up around here I want to start some more.  Around here you just can't get enough spinach. The flavor of fresh spinach is a true joy and nothing out of a can can come close to touching it.

My brother and his wife are coming to visit in a couple of weeks! I'm so excited!!!  I haven't seen them since before she was deployed to Japan.  She's a Doctor in the Navy.  I'm so proud of  what she's accomplished in the past few years.  Believe it or not she has worked her way up through the ranks, starting as a Corpsman and now is an officer.  They've only got a couple of years left before she will be able to retire with full benefits. Pretty cool, yes? 

It's hard to believe it's already Memorial Day weekend.  We don't have any plans to do anything special really.  We'll fire up the pit and do a little BBQ.  Probably chicken... maybe some ribs or a pork loin.  We'll play it by ear.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Don't Mess With Mother Nature

 I hope everyone is ok after those storms crashed across the midwest.  Somehow we dodged the bullet here. Some high winds and a few sprinkles of rain.

There are some things in life that are out of your control. Accept it, embrace it, work with what you have and just ride the tide.  What can you do about things like the weather?  Gardening this year should prove to be really interesting .  The best laid plans were at the ready.  Mother Nature has had other ideas.

Back in late February we were having some really nice weather.  We "worked" the lower garden, laid the water tape and filled it up with onions, spinach, lettuce, chard and turnips by the first part of March.  Right on time.  Mother Nature smiled and said "Nice job!" 

Feeling wonderful and ready to go  we moved on up the hill to the main garden.  One row at a time we've been working the beds.  Getting rid of weeds and the evil Johnson Grass takes time Those roots are deep and they really want to stay where they are.  It's better than last year and hopefully in another couple of years we might win.  Until then we do battle.

With high hopes we got the first row cleaned, compost and ground goodies in.  And then Mother Nature  giggled a bit... and it rained.  A lot.  To wet to work in.  About the time it dried up again we had one of the  latest freezes on record here.  And then more rain.  Then we made history with the very very latest freeze and a few snow flurries.  At this point I was really happy we hadn't had a chance to get everything done.  We'd have lost everything.

 By this time it was almost May and there was nothing planted in the main garden.  I kind of panicked for a bit but I'm learning that you just have to ride the tide.... go with the flow.  There's not much you can do about the weather except let it do what it wants.  So we are gardening by the rythem that Mother Nature is allowing. (as it should be)

We've been able to get in three 100 ft rows.  I had to decide just what is most important to us over the next year.  Tomato's and beans won hands down. Only 30 tomato plants in and about a row and of half of various beans. We eat a LOT of both. I'm hoping to start some fall tomato's to make up for tomato's I wanted to plant this spring.

 We have a row and a half left to dig out.  IF it ever dries out long enough to get out there.  Mars has been wanting to add two more rows to the main garden but I don't see that happening any time soon. The Powers that Be  seem to be pushing me to put in my first fall garden. I'm ok with that.  Last year was so hot that trying to get plants to grow was just too much to ask of them.  110+ weather for days on end doesn't seem to agree with them.

So honestly?  I have no idea how well we will do in the garden this year. It really waits to be seen. Mother Nature is obviously making sure it's interesting.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Strikes and You're Out?

I've been being quiet about the things going on in Washington these past few days (months).  It seems that most of my blogger friends have been doing the same.  The horror of  what happened in Benghazi haunts me.  It has haunted me since the day it happened.  I knew within a week of the 9/11 attack that something was terribly wrong with the story being told by the White House.  How could top officials just sit back and allow this attack to happen while watching in real time?  I think I know.  As a matter of fact I think I know a lot more than most of the folks who depend on  TV for their news.  It's a horrible story and it just might actually finally get the attention it deserves. 

Then we have the IRS scandal.  That one kind of came up out of the blue.  When the IRS actually apologizes for something it's done there HAS to be more to the story.  If they are targeting Tea Party, We the People, Patriot folks, then it's obvious to me that others are bound to be targets of the IRS as well.  We'll see how that all comes out in the wash.

And last but certainly not least we have this breaking story of the Associated Press being wire tapped for two months without their knowledge.  They are outraged.  I can't say I blame them.  Now the very press that has covered up and covered for this administration is calling foul.  Don't get me wrong here. I KNOW how precious our rights are and what lines were crossed, but I do get to chuckle a bit that their darling Leader has stabbed them in the back.  THAT is who is running our country.

I almost feel like I'm waiting on Christmas.  I would love nothing better than to see this entire administration taken out of office and charges filed against everyone who knew anything about any of the above incidentsand ESPECIALLY Benghazi.  From Obummer and Billary Clinton right down the line.  Hanging them would be too good for the likes of them. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good Morning!

Good Morning from Boo and the girls! I don't know why I started calling him that, but I kinda like it.  Boo the Roo!

Look what I found growing in the yard.  Pretty awesome.  This is Mullein. It's an amazing herb and I'm so excited to have found that some bird must have pooped a couple of plants.;-)
Here's a shot of the lower garden. The first row is onions.  The other two rows have onions on both ends as well.  The second row is spinach starting to take off.  The back row is chard, romaine and leaf lettuce, and some turnips.
This area used to be so overgrown you couldn't see through it, much less walk through there.  One of the things we've been working on around here.  Our property sits on almost on top of a good size hill.  This is a shot from "the top" of the property.  You can't even see either of the gardens from here.
My "ET" clothesline and birdhouse have new residents this spring. Of course when you want a picture of a bird they are never around!  There's a new nest in there though, I promise.
Did you know cilantro can overwinter in many place?  I had no idea until last fall.  I planted a couple of seeds and pretty much forgot about it. We've had fresh cilantro since late February and it's now going to seed. Time to plant more for the upcoming salsa season.
I love chives.
Here's a shot of the old grapevine on the left, my garlic patch in the back a bit of lettuce in the middle and some mint in the bucket.
Good Neighbors! I'm seeing more and more lady bugs every year.  Gotta love it
This is a plant called Rocket.  It comes from the mustard family.  Last year there were only two of these pretty plants.  Again I'm not sure where they came from but I'm thinking it might have been the birds again.  It will re-seed itself (obviously) and the bees love it.  I want to gather up the seeds and plant some in that area around and under those trees in the picture up top. Some say it's invasive. I guess it's a matter of what YOU call invasive. I love it.
 Coco say's "Have a Super Day, Now FEED ME!"

Monday, May 6, 2013

To Do While the Sun Shines

To Do List for Today 

Change linens 
Wash and hang out laundry (2 loads & bedding) 
Plant beans 
 Plant the rest of the tomato's
 Plant ALL the flower starts 
Make more potting soil 
Re-pot thyme
 Replant marjoram and lemon balm
 Clean out chicken coop 
Weed lower garden
 Plant marigolds along lower garden edges 
Plant wildflowers 
Sweep/mop/vacuum muddy floors 

Regular chores
Lunch and Dinner

 Do you see it yet? I can see it here. Yep that strange brightness flooding the entire sky. I think they used to call it sunshine? I hear it's not supposed to last long here before it disappears again. So today I'll be doing all those things that I've been putting off. Not to mention that it's already 6 days into May and I don't have my beans, black-eyed peas, and several other things in the ground yet. I'm not sure just how things are going to work out but I'm not waiting one single more day to put them out. How about you? Are you on schedule? Ahead? Behind?