Sunday 29 September 2013

Beta Grapes, by Kira

The Beta grape is a cross between the Concord and Wild Riverbank.
The skin is sweet, the flesh is tart and they have an intense grape flavour.
This past summer one of our two vines was blown over when a bad windstorm came through.
Andrew and I took the opportunity to espalier the grape vines properly.
We used steel t-posts in between and on either end of the vines and then ran steel wires to run the vines on.
I lost a lot of young grapes while pruning, untangling and hanging the vine that had blown down.
The other vine was loaded with grapes and still standing so I decided to wait on pruning it until after harvest.
A couple days ago the kids and I harvested the grapes and off the one vine and we got nearly a bushel of grapes!
We will be busy in the kitchen this week making fruit leather and grape jelly.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

A Milking We Will Go!, by Kira

Thank you, sweet Georgie!


Saturday 14 September 2013

Wild Apple Sauce, by Kira

Early yesterday morning we set out to go apple picking.
We didn't have far to go;
our neighbour just down the road owns a beautiful old farm with appe trees.
The apples are plentiful this year and we are taking advantage of the bounty.
We brought a bushel of sweet, golden apples home with us.
In the winter, our basement hovers around zero degrees Celsius,
which is great for storing apples.
I would like to store at least 3 bushels of fresh apples and a dozen jars of apple sauce.
Fresh homemade apple sauce is great and easy to make.

Wild Apple Sauce

A pot large enough to hold the quantity of apples you are making into sauce.
A bit of water.
Large bowl

Quarter and seed all the apples, leaving the skin on.
No need to be fussy if you don't get all the seeds as they will be strained out later.
Not having to peel the apples saves a lot of time.
Add enough water to your pot that the bottom is covered by an inch of water.
Place your apples in the pot with the lid on.
Cook your apples at a low to medium temperature and stir them occasionally.
Once your apples have softened and are mushy,
place the colander over the bowl and spoon your apples into the colander.
Using your pestle, work all of the sauce through the colander into the bowl.
Feed the warm left over peels to your chickens, they will love it!
It's a warm treat for them on a cool fall day.
You can refrigerate, freeze, or can the apple sauce.

Still warm and topped with true cinnamon is our favourite way to eat it.
It's even better with little maple syrup and some fresh cream!

Friday 13 September 2013

A Visit to Sky River Meadows Farm, by Kira.

Through this Fall and the coming Spring we'll be readying our land,
putting up fencing and building housing.
There have been farm visits and extra research.
Yes, we are expanding our homestead next spring,
with goats!

Specifically, we are purchasing Nigerian Dwarf goats.
3 to 4 does and 2 buck kids.
These goats are a small breed but they have a lot to offer.
Their milk is exceptionally rich in butterfat, which makes their milk ideal for cheese, soap and ice cream!

We recently visited Sky River Meadows farm,
where Angee and Geordon gave us a tour of their goat farm.
While Andrew and I were checking out the goat buildings, milking station and fencing, our kids played with the goats and their toys.
I can see now that both the goats and our kids are going to entertain each other.
They may be out for hours on end, playing.

When we sat down to have lunch, we were offered some goats's milk
and ice cream!
If you have had goat's milk from a grocery store you will know that it has a very distinct 'goaty' flavour.
But this milk was delicious!
It was thick, creamy, and to my surprise, didn't have that 'goaty' taste.
The real taste test was up to our kids, who loved the goat milk.
We had orange and mint chip ice cream, which our kids ate eagerly.
Nigerian goat's milk is so high in butterfat that you don't need to add any gelatine or other additives to thicken homemade ice cream.
It is made simply with milk, sugar to taste and your favourite flavouring.
How great is that?!

The goats were playful, friendly, and each had a personality of it's own.
Our visit to Angee and Geordon's farm eased any hesitations we had left about getting goats. We're ready!
And excited about our own milk, ice cream, cheese, and goat's milk soap!
There is much to learn between now and when we get our goats,
like health maintenance, feeding, birthing, milking, hoof trimming, raising kids, and more.
It's another new challenge for us,
but we know it will be worth it.

Monday 2 September 2013

Fermented Dragon Tongues! By Kira

A few days ago I made two batches of fermented dragon tongue beans.
I made dilly dragon tongues for the kids and for Andrew and I,
hot dragon tongues.

Slowly, I have been reading my way through Wild Fermentation,
by Sandor Ellix Kats.
Although I haven't done much fermenting in the past, I hope to ferment most of the fresh vegetables from the garden.
Fermenting is a way to preserve food.
It also makes food more nutritious and easier to digest.

Fermented Dragon Tongues

Enough dragon tongue beans to tightly pack into two one-litre jars.
Three garlic cloves, or more, if you really like garlic!
5 sprigs of bouquet dill.
And if you want your dragon tongues hot,
add two hot green or red peppers sliced and seeds removed.
Six cups of water.
Three table spoons of non-iodized natural salt.

Mix the salt and water together until the salt has fully dissolved.

Into sterilzed jars, drop in some of the garlic, peppers, and dill.
Tightly pack in the beans, intermittently adding more of the garlic,
peppers, and dill.
Be sure to add the beans with the jar on it's side (you can pack more in this way).

After you have packed your jar so tightly that not another bean would fit,
pour in the salt water.
Then fill the jar so that the beans are submerged under the brine.

Set the jar lid on top of the jar, but don't tighten.
You want the air to be able to escape.

Let this hang out on your counter for a few days.
Do a taste test each day.
Once the beans start to ferment you can put them in the fridge for a few days then enjoy them.

We like to add these to grilled cheese and they're also tasty on a burger.