Friday 22 November 2013

Paisley Frost & Minty Winter Tea, by Kira


With the rain turning to snow, we have found ourselves spending more time outdoors.
The once familiar forest behind our home has turned into a magical white land,
fresh and new to explore.
With cold runny noses and rosy red cheeks we have been poking around the woods, looking for tracks and checking out snow flakes.
Not far, there is a favourite big rock with mounds of green moss,
frozen into perfect form.
Fern loves how Jack Frost paints white paisley frost across the black ice on the creek.

Our winter walks have been followed by a hot tea in front of the woodstove; either a cup of chaga with maple syrup or a fresh minty tea from our garden.
The bees love our summer tea garden as much as we do.
There is calendula, peppermint, spearmint, catnip, bee balm, oregano, chamomile, sage, and lavender, each blossoming throughout the summer and harvested in the fall.
I hung and dried the herbs in the kitchen, then packed them into jars for the Winter.
They are great for adding to baths, infused oils, and of course, tea.

For our Minty Winter Tea:

6 cups water
Two calendula heads
One tablespoon catnip
One tablespoon bee balm
One teaspoon chamomile
Two tablespoons peppermint
Raw honey to taste
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and let cool slightly.
Add the herbs to the water and let stand for about five minutes.
Strain the tea into cups and sweeten with a little raw honey.

This is best enjoyed after a cool Winter walk,
or with a good book and a cozy blanket.


Thursday 14 November 2013

Apple Hand Pies, by Kira

Mmmm pie......

With an abundance of apples and left over lard from last years hogs, Fern and I thought we needed to make apple hand pies.

For the crust, I adapted the basic crust recipe from A Year Of Pies, by Ashley English.

2 1/2 cups of spelt light flour
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
6 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of lard
One egg + 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar + enough ice water to equal 3/4 cup.

In a large bowl mix the salt and flour together.

For the lard and butter, I put it through the shredder in my food processor frozen.
(The key to good pastry is to keep everything cold and don't overwork the dough.)

Mix the shredded lard and butter with the flour.

Slowly drizzle the water, egg, vinegar mixture over the flour and lard.
Work the mixture together until it all sticks together. You may need a little more liquid.
Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Dice six apples and toss with a little lemon juice, a tablespoon or two of raw honey, and lots of true cinnamon. I also added a handful of chia seeds to the mix!

Preheat the oven to 350.
Roll the pastry out and using a medium size soup bowl cut circles out of the pastry.

Add a tablespoon or two of your apple mixture into the middle of the circles (or however much fits comfortably).

Using a little egg and water mixture , paint the rim of the circles (this helps to seal the pies).

Fold the circle in half and flute the edge.

Bake the pies on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

They are wonderful served with fresh cream and black coffee.

Friday 8 November 2013

Saving Asparagus Seed, by Kira

This past spring the kids and I foraged asparagus from the forest.
There is an abundance back there but becomes hard to search for it once the black flies come into full swing.
We did, however, pick enough for a couple meals.
Heading out this fall and seeing all the asparagus fern got me thinking;
I should plant my own asparagus garden, close to home.
The kids and I found this beautiful female asparagus fern that was covered in bright red berries.
We cut it off and brought it home with us, all the while discussing where this new garden would go.
When saving asparagus, pick them when the fruit is red, usually in late fall.
You will find them on tall female asparagus ferns.
I have read that the male plants are the thicker meatier plant, while the female is thinner and woodier, making the male more palatable.
Squeeze the black seeds out the berry.
You usually get one to five seeds out of one berry.

For storage, place the seeds into a kitchen strainer and rinse in cool water.
They wash easily.
Lay them out on a towel to dry, leaving space between the seeds for air flow.
Once they have dried, place them in a sealed container.

I have read from a couple different sources that the seeds need to go into the freezer for stratification before planting in early spring.
This means simulating winter conditions to aid spring germination.
You can keep the seeds in the freezer for the winter or place them in the freezer 6 to 8 weeks before starting your seeds.
Start the asparagus in pots or containers and plant them when they are a year old in early spring or late fall.
This helps protect the plant during it's most vulnerable stages.

When spring nears I will share the process of preparing the seeds and asparagus beds.