Sunday, August 26, 2012

Around the Farm Part 2

Now for part 2 of this awfully long post. You can find part one here.  Back to all that zucchini. You all are probably getting tired of hearing about zucchini, but this is a first for me and I want to remember what I did with it next year. First, I made stuffed zucchini with the smaller ones. A dear friend had given me some small zucchinis from her garden and I had a few smaller ones as well. So I made greek stuffed zucchini.

I just cut them in half lengthwise. Then I scooped out the insides. I chopped up the insides and cooked them in some oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, greek seasoning and onions.

I added this to a mixture of bread crumbs. Which I made with my coffee grinder. I love this tool. I even use it to grind my 7 grain cereal that I add to my homemade bread. My hubby doesn't love multi grain bread and the pearl barley hurts my teeth when I bite into it, so grinding it up is a great solution. I like that it doesn't grind it all to powder, we still get some bigger grains. I also added chopped tomatoes, feta cheese and copped frozen lambs quarters. You would use lambs quarters as you would spinach. It is a weed, but it is wonderful. I only picked this one package this year. You can see my post about lambs quarters here.  Then I stuffed the zucchini halves and baked them at 350 degrees for about 35-40 mins. Then I froze them on a cookie sheet and then put them in a zip lock bag.

Bread crumbs, feta, tomatoes and "spinach" for stuffed zucchini

I also made a big stock pot full of Italian Beef and Zucchini Soup. I divided it up between 5 zip lock bags and froze them. When we eat this, I will add cooked macaroni.

My favorite thing I made with the zucchini was Sweet Relish.  It is SO GOOD! We go through a lot of relish on hot dogs and hamburgers and this is so much better than the no name stuff I always buy. I have just enough zucchini left to make one more batch, which will make 11 pints altogether. Just enough to last a year. If I knew how easy and good this relish would be, I would have tried harder to grow zucchini other years. I looked on the internet for a recipe and put together one from looking at a few.

This is the recipe I used;
12 c shredded zucchini
4 c onion
5 Tbsp canning salt
Mix all these in a non-metallic bowl. Cover and let sit over night in the fridge. The next day, rinse and squeeze out the water.

Then place the following in a big pot;
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
5 c sugar
3 c vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp dry mustard (I am going to use mustard seed in my next batch instead)
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp nutmeg. 

Add the zucchini and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 mins. Pack in 5 sterilized pint jars and process in a hot water bath for 30 mins. I processed mine for 35 mins because of our higher altitude.

Now onto a new subject.  Our neighbour called and asked if we could use some apples. Well our trees don't have that much on them, so I jumped at the chance to go pick some.  Rebekah is in the picture below peeling an apple. I was able to make 4 apple crisps - one to eat that night and 3 big ones for the freezer. Our neighbour told me that her apples cooked up mushy, so that is why I made crisps out of them. She said we could come get more, which I might do so I can make fruit leather.

The kids and I also went into town to pick chokecherries. They grow along the river there. We picked enough to make 8 cups of juice. I already used 2 cups to make a batch of Crab Apple Chokecherry Jelly- a favorite in our house.

We have had other vegetables from our garden too, such as sweet corn. This corn is so incredibly sweet and it grows so well. I always plant Earlivee corn.  We picked it all and processed it. We only enjoyed 15 corn on the cobs. I wanted to get as much as I could into the freezer for winter. We eat corn about 5 nights per week.  I always cut the corn off the cob first and then boil it. We were able to put up 8 lbs of corn kernels. I have more growing in one of our pumpkin patches, but I'm not sure how well it has done.

Our neighbour that had the apples also had sour cherries. I have never had these before or used them in baking. We picked a box full. I am just pitting them and freezing for now. I think I would like to make some cherry pies.  If anyone has a great pie recipe or any other recipes that use sour cherries, could you leave a comment with a link or the recipe? I would really appreciate it.

So, now we will continue with the harvest. I look forward to pickling my beets and the cucumbers my friend gave me this week.

This post is linked up to Homestead Revival Barn Hop #76

Friday, August 24, 2012

Around the Farm Part 1

I wanted to use this opportunity to show all our family, friends and blog friends some of what's been happening on our farm.  When we moved here 6 years ago from British Columbia, I had a dream of having a u-pick apple orchard with pumpkin patch and all sorts of kids activities. Such as games, wagon and horse rides and have a full concession with a store.  We planted the apple trees 5 years ago and more 4 years ago and we have been having a public pumpkin patch for 5 years now.  Well, finally this year we have had some apples on about 6 trees out of about 60 trees. We were pretty excited! In the picture below you will see a variety of apples called, Parkland. They are very yummy.

Our pumpkins are doing incredibly well this year. We hope to have a concession at our Pumpkin Patch this year along with a little store where I can sell homemade jams and jellies and lots of really nice household items. Like shabby chic place mats, cute salt and pepper shakers, etc. I have a huge collection of vintage household utensils and other wares to sell as well.  Some of our pumpkins look to be about 15-20 lbs already. Our white pumpkins, jamboree and jack-b-quik's seem to be taking longer, but our weather forecast is looking favorable and hopefully they will come along.  The next 2 pictures are of one of our pumpkin patches and the third one is of the gourds.


This year was the first year in my life that I was able to grow zucchini! Really, I have tried, but nothing ever grew. This year a lot grew!  In the picture below are some of the zucchinis I got out of the garden, (I traded the big one (8lbs) and a medium one for a ice cream bucket of cucumbers with a friend), and my only red tomato, (although the plants are loaded), my only cucumber and some of the apples the boys picked.

Ben and Jacob had a blast grating up the zucchini in the food processor.

I have lots more to share, but my computer has been so slow in uploading these pictures. So I will have Part 2 of Around the Farm coming up. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On The Home Front

I love summer. There are so many different activities to do before winter sets in and we stay mostly indoors.  The last couple of weeks have been no exception.  First, our church hosted VBS. They put on a program by Answers in Genesis called, "The Incrediworld Amazement Park". It taught about God's creation and how he did it in 6 days. It was lots of fun and this was the first year that Rebekah could be a crew helper. I was happy they paired her with me. We had fun leading our crew everyday.

Rebekah, waiting for the VBS day to begin.

Playing games outside.
When we playing games outside, the bees were SO BAD.  A crew leader was stung one day and then that night I had coffee with some homeschool moms and one of them had a great tip. When you get stung, quickly pour some bleach onto a cloth or paper towel and dab it on the bee sting. I had to draw attention to that tip because just the next day, a little boy on our crew was stung. Luckily my friend who was helping with the toddlers reminded me of what our friend had said. We were right next to the cleaning closet and got out the bleach. Now this boy was screaming real bad and when we dabbed the bleach on, he just stopped. It was really amazing. Thank you Chris!

After our fun at VBS, we decided to use up one of our 3 family passes to Science World that the kids won by entering a coloured picture of the weather and sending it into the news station. 

The family pretending to fly a jet in the airport activity area at Science World
Jacob playing with the water activity center
Rebekah looking at something that seems really interesting.
That night, we thought it would be nice to cool off at the brand new water park our town has opened. But when we got there it was already having some technical difficulties. So we just played at the park next to it. Then we went to McDonald's so the kids could redeem the free ice cream cone coupons they won at the County Fair for playing the games they had set up.

Here is part of the water park. This is going to be such a blessing on hot days.
 We have also enjoyed a day at the beach and went bowling for the first time as a family (minus Larry).  I was worried that the summer was just going by and we have been so busy with other things, like the garden and running errands. I just wanted to have some fun with the kids before it starts getting dark at 4:30 in the afternoon. So this is a good start. We hope to have a bon fire for Jacob's 6th birthday next week so he can eat one of his favorite foods - marshmallows! And we will purpose to really enjoy what few days of summer we have left, all the while happily anticipating, my favorite season, fall.

I have linked this post to Homestead Revival Barn Hop #76 and Raising Homemakers

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

County Fair - What Fun!

We just love our County Fair. We look forward to it every year and prepare so many things to enter into the bench show.  This year took a lot more preparation, because all 3 of our kids were entering things. It was Jacob's first year to enter and between the 4 of us, we had 70 items to enter in. It is always so much fun.

Our fair is only on one day. This year they had hula hoop contests, bubble gun blowing contests, a greased pig race (the winner got to keep the pig), hobby horse races and a ranch rodeo.
In the picture below, Ben and Jacob are trying the Hula Hoop Contest.

In this picture, Ben and Jacob are making their hobby horse to race with.

Here is Jacob's hobby horse.

Here is part of the Ranch Rodeo.

I had a goal to enter 30 items this year and I just made it.

In the picture below, you can see some of the produce I entered; (I will list everything, more for my own records)
  • Beets (2nd)
  • Green Onions (1st)
  • Raspberries (2nd)
  • Green Bush Beans (2nd)
  • Yellow Bush Beans
  • Peas
  • Wild Fruit Collection (1st)
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkin (1st)
My pumpkin also received the Best of Show Award. I think it is because people don't see fully ripe pumpkins around this area so early in the year.  It was the new variety I tried this year called, Neon. It has a maturity time of 65 days. Incredible! And they are doing very well. Just a hint for some of you in shorter growing areas.

For the culinary arts division, I entered;

  • Rhubarb Strawberry Jam (3rd)
  • Raspberry Jam (2nd)
  • Canned Peaches (2nd)
  • Crab apple Chokecherry Jelly (1st)
  • Crab Apple Jelly (1st)
  • Peach Pie (1st)
  • Pie Shell (2nd)
  • Cinnamon Rolls (1st)
  • White Dinner Buns (1st)
  • Butter Tarts (1st)
  • Zucchini Loaf (2nd)
  • White Bread (2nd)
  • 1 Dozen Eggs (3rd)
  • Toll Painted Cow Welcome Sign
  • Ginger Bread Man Christmas Ornament

Our fair is so lucky to have some awesome sponsors that have contests as well. I love entering these, as the awards are gift certificates from that company. I entered all but one this year and I won $95 worth of gift certificates and about $35 worth of gift prizes.

In these sponsored categories I entered;

  • Fleischmanns' White Bread (2nd - $10 gift certificate & cookbook)
  • Robin Hood Chocolate Chunk Cookies (1st - $25 gift ccertificate)
  • Tenderflake Peach Pie (1st - apron and dough cutter)
  • Bernardin Crab Apple Jelly (1st - $20 gift certificate)
  • Certo Raspberry Jam (1st - $20 gift certificate)
  • Bernardin Mason Jar Craft (1st - $20 gift certificate)

You can see in the next picture some of the things that Ben entered. Some items were, the largest egg, wooden model truck, brownies, painted rock, sewed hunters bag, his moccasins and sand art to name a few. He was happy with the $26 he won in prize money. It is a great way for the kids to earn extra money and it is all so fun anyway, even if they don't win.

Jacob entered, a painted rock, wooden model airplane, lego zoo, largest egg, sewn hunters bag, rice crispies, sand art and a few other things. He was able to win $30 in prize money.

Rebekah did very well too. She won Best of Division for the Rooster Water Colour picture she gave me and she was runner up for high point. You can see all of her entries on her blog, Country God Girl.

Well, we are already thinking about next year. We would like to enter some photos and we found out Rebekah can enter things into the adult categories as well. So next year, she wants to enter in the sponsored contests and maybe some jams and jellies.

Now we are busy just eating all the leftover baking! Yum... peach pie.

This post was liked up to Homestead Revival Barn Hop #74

Friday, August 3, 2012

Another BIG Cost "Cutter"

I just love sharing ways I am learning to limit our expenses. We have had less money to work with lately, so I am really looking for ways to cut our costs and God is so faithful to show me ways to do it.
I have been blessed by other women's blogs and especially This Beautiful Life, where Paula shares how to give yourself a haircut! I only get to the hairdresser about once a year, because I don't seem to find time and it seems like we can never afford it. I don't take Rebekah very often either. With Paula's super easy instructions and step by step pictures, I was able to cut my hair and Rebekah's. It was so easy and has nice style to it.  Larry shaves the boys hair and now I can do mine and Rebekah's. That should save us quite a lot of money each year.

Here is a recap of other cost cutters we do;
  • Make our own liquid laundry soap (estimated cost - less than $1/year)
  • I no longer use plastic wrap for opened packages of cheese. I just put them in used bun bags.
  • I grind up my own bread crumbs from stale homemade bread in our coffee grinder.
  • I hang our clothes out to dry.
  • I have found the the fast cycle on our dishwasher (20 mins) works just a good as the full cycle I have always used (60 mins) and it doesn't have a dry cycle, which I don't like to use anyway. I think this would be a huge savings.
  • I haven't been buying extras like canned mushrooms. Nobody really notices them in a dish anyway.
  • I buy our meat on clearance and freeze it right away.
  • Of course, I buy our milk at Shoppers Drugmart, where I earn rewards points towards free groceries.
  • I usually only buy anything if it is on sale.
  • Preserve our own jams and pickles.

That is a few of the things we do here at our home to cut costs.