Saturday, April 2, 2011

Plant Now or Forever Hold Your Seeds

TOMATOES!! Hi, Gillian here with an update on current homestead projects. Our greenhouse has a new roof, not made of glass this time, and although it is still lacking a door it is toasty warm and full of baby plants. The tomatoes are still in the kitchen getting coddled, but they are already much bigger than in this picture. I sure hope the weather outside warms up fast so we can plant them out. As an experiment, I planted two "Cold Set" tomato seeds in an in-ground bed in the greenhouse in March. They haven't come up yet. But if they do, we may get some seriously early tomatoes. Alyssa's dad sent us the seeds from Minnesota and they have been known to survive temperatures down to 18 degrees Farenheit!

Although Alyssa and Dan are the true quilters--they've knocked out three quilt tops in the past week, and nice ones, too--I have been diligently working on my log cabin chain piecing skills to make some blocks for Quilts for Quake Survivors. Anyone can make blocks and go to quilting bees at sewing shops around town to make them into quilts. On May 11th, come to a live auction and buy one of the quilts--all the proceeds will be donated to support Japan disaster victims.

And enjoy this beautiful chicken drawn by my good friend and one of my favorite artists, Claire Michie. We Gocco printed it last week, and isn't it lovely? I wish I could say it's a portrait of one of our girls, but this chicken is no one I know personally...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Weeknight Pickling

Long time no post! January is hardly the best time for canning and preserving...and February isn't exactly a cornucopia either. Or is it? This week I'm making sunchoke pickles from the seemingly endless supply in the backyard. (It may only seem endless because a year's supply of sunchokes to me is...about three pounds.)

In homestead news, I've opened the last jar of pears in light syrup. I definitely should have made more, because I can happily eat cottage cheese with canned pears three or four times a week for breakfast or a snack. I LOVE it. And my canned pears are the best I've ever had, if I do say so myself.

The carrot pickles I made last fall were also delectable--with what I think of as my "Portland blend" of pickling spices: coriander seed, fennel seed, and celery (really, lovage) seed, plus a few peppercorns, garlic, and a dried chili pepper. Everything but the peppercorns came from within five blocks of my house. And this year's green tomato chutney is getting high ratings. Good, because we still have, like, 14 jars. Apple butter is also tasty and getting used.

But the winner of last summer's preserving, by far, is Dan's Blackberry Freezer Jam. Next summer I want to fill our entire freezer with it. Because it doesn't have a lot of sugar, it tastes good in yogurt, on ice cream, from a spoon, and piled in excessive mounds on toast. And each time I eat it, I think about Dan showing up on his bike with scratches up and down his arms and a gallon jug full of blackberries, pretty much every afternoon in August.