Picked and Planted – August 5th-29th

These past weeks we picked:

A whole lot of everything!!  We have had a constant supply of everything from the past month, including a reintroduction of radish from the second planting, some random lettuces and especially exciting was the addition of tomatoes and tomatillos! I love tomatoes so much, I did a special post just on them…yup, love ’em!

August was a big month – we picked a lot, we saved a lot, we jammed and baked a lot while on vacation and since being home, we have frozen a lot.  My hubby is thoroughly enjoying the quote ” We are putting up some big numbers, big numbers…” I can’t argue!

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Onions

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Herbs and garlic

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All sorts of colourful carrots – no better way to get little ones to eat veggies than to let them pick out their favourite colours and plant them!

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Carrots are not the only the only veggies that come in multi-colour!  We have been picking green, yellow, pink, purple and speckled beans in all shapes and sizes.

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Magically, rhubarb has continued to produce in the shade.  We froze 16 cups so far for the winter.

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Apples are almost ripe – we picked 5 pounds in advance of the deer, hopefully we didn’t pick them too early…

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Our favourite root veggie – beets!  So delicious steamed or roasted.

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And what good are tomatoes and basil without cucumbers for greek salad?

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And not to be forgotten…TOMATOES!!!!

WOW!  What a month!!!

Approx savings compared to local market: 495.89!!

Total since May 26th – $1118.46

Total weight picked this period: 103.31 pounds!!  That is more than my 12 year old – our minds are blown!

Total to date: 232.59 pounds

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This was our first massive picking before we left on vacation – the picking buckets get loaded into the truck with everything else so we don’t have to go to the store during our holidays.

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This was our second big picking after holidays for the freezer and storage!

A few notes – 1. Prices are calculated by comparing to the price of non-organic, (local when possible) produce at the local grocery store that we stop at the most.  We usually buy our produce (when our hand is forced) at a local veggie market that is mostly organic and spray free, but tends to be more expensive and has less selection.  We chose to compare to the supermarket as it was more reflective of what most people would buy and what I could quickly take a picture of with my camera when grabbing the weekly essentials without an extra trip. If I cannot find what we grew (market turnip, tomatillos etc.), I will call the specialty market in Halifax for their prices. These costs do not factor in the price of what the produce becomes (jams, pies, baking, salsa, pickles etc.), simply the raw food we pick. I suspect our savings would be almost double if we compared to organic or final products!

2. Since May 26th, we have purchased 2 pounds of tomatoes, 6 cucumbers, 1 bag of potatoes, 8 bunches of bananas, 3 watermelons and 1 pineapple. Everything else has come from our garden or our weekly fruit share from Tap Root/Noggins CSA.  Not bad, if I do say so myself!!!

3. We record everything by hand after weighing our picking buckets with a digital fish scale.  The kids are getting to be very good little book keepers!  We are not separating by variety of tomato, bean, kale etc. but we are separating by type of veggie.  Maybe next year…

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My wee book keeper.

These past weeks we planted:

Zippo.  Vacation and work got the best of us!  That said, we finally pulled out the peas today and made space for all the fall greens we hope to plant tomorrow and later this week. Stay tuned!

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(Taken right after we got home – in desperate need of a mow and a lot of weeding!)

Wildlife Wednesday – The Showdown at “The Garden”

In this Wildlife Wednesday post there will be three different perspectives.  A deer’s perspective as he runs away from my dog.  My dog’s perspective as he runs after the deer.  And my perspective as I watch it all happen.

#1 perspective (The deer)

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  All I wanted was to munch on some vegetables with my buddies.  It was a nice day and I didn’t feel like going back to the tree den until later.  My wife was all up in my face about making sure the kids were ready for life and all my kids did was whine.  So me and my buddies all decided to go to the hot spot everyone liked to call “The Garden.”  We ran as fast as we could to the hot spot after a hard day at work (eating and finding grass).  The longer I took the more upset my wife would be so I went pretty quick, so did all the other guys.  We got to “the Garden” and everyone was told to vote who they thought would have to check to see if the electric fence was on.  (I did it last time)  But when we got there apparently a dinner special was going on because some of those little annoying humans were looking and pointing at us and were throwing delicious apples to us.  All the guys and me ran towards all that we could get.  And then it happened.  We heard a door open, and then saw a little white dog.  All the guys ran.  I, however, didn’t.  It was my night!  I didn’t want it to be ruined!  A scary story my great aunt deer had once told me about “Gus the guard dog”  had become a famous story throughout the woods and I changed my mind and ran.  “Gus the guard dog” was the beast of the woods that everyone was terrified to run into.  I had heard at the monthly woods meating that Stormin Norman (Pheasant) had almost been captured.  He said that Gus breathed anger .  His ears were apparently a secret weapon that all humans falled for.  Cuteness was his best acting scheme.  Unfortunately I hadn’t ran fast enough and that beast was right at my tail.  I leapt into the kind shelter of the woods where I disappeared from his view.  My wife is going to be mad but luckily I managed to keep and apple in my mouth, I will give it to her   That will smooth things over for sure.

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#2 perspective  (The dog)

Instinct is everything.  Well at least to dogs.  All I know is that if there was an animal you could catch, go for it.  So that’s what I did.  There was an animal.  I am a dog.  My instinct kicked in and I ran.  My feet practically flew as I sprinted for the deer.  I am a small white dog.  And I am not ferocious but I am cute.  And that is a great weapon to have.  My ears and fur usually win me some kind of treat but I really don’t care one way or another, I eat almost everything.  Expect tomatoes.  Those little red balls are not natural looking.  And they are so sour.  So I don’t eat them, but that’s my life choice.  Around the subdivision I am notorious with the animals for being dashingly handsome and brave.  And ferocious.  In MY house I am known for being cute and cuddly and always being curled up on my couch.  I choose to keep my “woods life” and my “house life” separate.  My routine is sleep, eat, sleep, look for something to chew, sleep and then ask my friend Ally (not her real name) to let me outside to pee.  So one day I needed to pee so she let me out.  I saw deer.  So then I sprinted after them. Most of them sprinted and one started a little later than the others giving me a chance to catch him.  I ran as hard as my big “muscle covered” legs would take me.  I couldn’t catch him but I almost did!  That’s what matters.  (If anyone asks I did catch that deer.)

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#3 perspective (My perspective)

It was a nice day.  I looked out the window and saw some deer.  I love deer!  I ran and grabbed some apples.  The kind I did’t like, of course.  I am a very picky eater when it comes to apples.  No to green but yes to yellow.  Not the gross kind of red apples and not if they are too squishy. Best to toss them in the compost or, in this case, throw them to the deer.  We started to throw.  The deer went for them right away.  Our dog Gus, a cute little cuddly dog that everyone loves somehow go out and ran.  I started yelling, trying to stop him, but his instincts had already turned on and his ears had already turned off.  He ran.  But I knew he wouldn’t catch him, even if he did he wouldn’t know what to do with a deer except lick it.  So I watched him chase the deer.  He eventually came back and then I gave him a treat but not a Tomato because I know he doesn’t like them.

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~ Ally Griffin (not my real name)

Community Supported…Baking

imageMy mom’s kitchen smells wonderful when she bakes. Growing up she would bake us muffins, pies, biscuits, scones and cookies that made our mouths water. Most of her recipes had some kind of delicious fruit in them, usually picked at a local berry farm or bought at a farmers market. Many of her recipes were passed down from my Grandma or the other ladies from the church who published cookbooks as fundraisers. I can’t honestly remember eating a cookie out of a bag or from a box, except maybe from a friend’s house or at the cottage as a treat. Grandma’a wild blueberry pie was famous and even now, my girls ask Santa every Christmas for blueberry pies!  My Papa made applesauce that was second to none – it was akin to pie filling in a jar, heavenly!

Ask any maritimer and I am sure they will say that sitting down with home baking, a cup of tea and a good friend to share with is as close to Heaven as we can get.

Spending time with my girls in the kitchen is one of my most “happy places”. Teaching them how to create delicious creations that have been baked in my family’s kitchens for generations makes me feel more connected to my past and gives me a sense of securing skills for their future.  As we peel, chop, stir, fold and sample, I smile as I remember doing the same with my grandparents and aunties and uncles from rural Nova Scotia. We play music in the background and we chat about our days, distractedly growing closer as mouth watering smells waft out of the oven.  Little by little, they tell me the stories I wouldn’t otherwise hear or the secrets I would likely never discover. Their little imaginations wander as they get to pick add ins and flavourings; more than once we have had competitions to create the best scone recipe – Saturday morning Scone-offs!

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Baking with the kids provides a convenient opportunity to teach them about where our food comes from and how we can look close to home for many of our ingredients. Nova Scotia is fortunate to have many small family farms, markets and Community Supported Agriculture opportunities. Although we have planted many fruit trees and berry bushes on our property, the birds and the deer tend to benefit more than we do! Because we could never grow enough of our own fruit, we joined a CSA and get a weekly fruit box of local fresh, frozen, dried and preserved fruit from a number of farms around us.  It is a surprise each week when we pick up our box (we could check the website first, but where would be the adventure in that?!).

This week before we even picked up our box we definitely had our crisper full of more apples than we could eat, so we decided to bake! Our CSA, organized by Tap Root and Noggins Farms, also offers add-ons of veggies, eggs, meats and grains, which is a nice option to have.  We are also fortunate to have a market close to us called “The Vegetorium” (isn’t that a fun name?) where we can pick up eggs, locally roasted coffee, baking supplies and lots of fresh produce all year round. It is a nice feeling to know which farms our fruit is coming from and to chat with storekeepers who know us by name and can tell us exactly where their eggs come from. If you are interested in joining a Community Supported Agriculture venture in Nova Scotia, here is a link from another Nova Scotia blog, Adventures in Local Food, with a list for 2015. Our CSA has proven a great way for us to enjoy other’s gardens even when we can’t yet enjoy our own!!

On the menu – Nana’s Apple Cake and Papa’s Applesauce

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Delicious Honeycrisp, Gala and MacIntosh apples from the weekly CSA fruit box.

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Little hands loading up the apple peeler…

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Peeling, peeling and peeling!!!

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We added dried cranberries and blueberries to the batter – also from our fruit box.

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Little hands making sure Nana’s apple cake is perfect…

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Success!!

And Papa’s applesauce was pretty amazing too…

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We add brown sugar (or honey), cinnamon and nutmeg to chopped apples and simmer on medium low until it reaches a soft and saucy consistency. We love it warm over ice cream or vanilla yogourt!

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Recipe for Nana’s Apple Cake

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 cups chopped apples

3/4 oil

2 beaten eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 1/4 cup flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 cups raisins, cranberries or dried blueberries

Combine chopped apples with sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and raisins or berries.  Bake in a bundt pan or 2 loaf pans for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Enjoy with a cup of tea!!!

” If most of us valued FOOD and CHEER and SONG above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien