Home | Garden | Orchard | Cooking | Crafts | Lifestyle | Chickens

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Curing Pumpkins

The first round of pumpkins were harvested yesterday. After doing some research, it is recommended that they be cured in order to have a longer shelf life. Today I started to cure them using the following steps:

  1. Washed them in soapy water with 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (this is a rough estimate - I didn't actually measure)
  2. Dried them with a dish towel
  3. Tried to find a place that will stay around 80-85 deg F, I picked the laundry room
  4. Set the pumpkins on top of the dryer with space between them so air can flow (Note: We do not use our dryer so there isn't any chance that the pumpkins will get too hot as a result of the dryer being on)
  5. Let them cure for 10 days

That's it. Hopefully they will cure well and last the two months until Halloween.

Fall/Winter Garden '09

Here in Zone 9, it's time to plant the cool weather crops of a Fall/Winter garden. This is the first time I have planted a garden in August. It is a little strange, but exciting. I am looking forward to the sprouting of new seeds and a whole new cycle of life beginning.

To make room, I cleared two rows of plants from our Summer garden. Only 5 of the squash plants and the herb patch remain. For this planting, I decided to try the Square Foot Gardening method. I thought this would come in handy since I had limited space and an assortment of seeds to plant. The new crops are in the lower two rows of the garden diagram.

If the Square Foot method works well, I plan to use it for the Summer garden next year. The prospect of fewer weeds makes me smile.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hungarian Hot Pepper Mustard

This year in our garden we planted several pepper plants. The four Hungarian Wax peppers have been loaded with peppers. Not able to eat them fast enough, I wanted to make something. I found this recipe for Hot Pepper Butter that sounded like a good fit.

Here is the adapted recipe I used:

~50 Hungarian Wax peppers (enough for 5-6 cups blended)
1 quart vinegar (1 cup Apple cider, 1 cup white, 2 cups red wine)
1 quart prepared mustard (I used French’s classic yellow)
3 cups sugar
1 cup flour mixed with water to make a smooth paste
Red Cayenne Pepper powder (if more heat is desired)

  1. De-stem the peppers and removed the seeds/membranes if desired (use gloves – the pepper oils will make your skin burn)

  2. In small batches, blend the peppers until smooth

  3. Cook peppers, vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a stockpot and cook over medium heat (add Cayenne pepper to taste)

  4. Add the flour paste, stirring constantly (mine was clumpy so I pulled out the hand blender and smoothed out the mixture)

  5. Using a jar funnel, I ladled into hot jars and sealed.

  6. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 min

  7. Remove using a jar lifter and let the jars cool in a draft free location (you should hear popping sounds as the jars seal)

The mustard is a nice bright orange color since most of the peppers I used were orange and red. It is quite spicy (enough to make my lips burn), but I think a little will add a lot of flavor.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Update

The chickens are all grown up. The white ones (Light Brahma breed) are much larger than their brown sisters (Ameracauna breed). Lately we have been letting them out to free range in the backyard. Here is a picture of the two breeds next to each other:

All four chickens are still very friendly. They will come running over to me and stand next to my feet. One even walked under my leg when I was sitting in a lawn chair. It is fun to see them run, even if it is more of a waddle with an occasional burst of flight.

We went on vacation a couple of weeks ago. It was that week that the brown chickens laid their first eggs (at 20 weeks of age). By the time we got home, there were several. They are a greenish blue color.

My husband decided to eat some, and the first one he opened was a double yolk.

Over the last week, they have been laying nearly every day. I kept wondering when the white chickens would start. Today I got my answer, our first brown egg:

At least we know one of the white chickens is laying (at 22 weeks of age). Maybe there will be another brown egg tomorrow.
Related Posts with Thumbnails

_ | _