Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Freeze Most Everything from Your Garden

Are your gardens bursting at the seams with luscious produce? 
Mine is coming along nicely, and I am just starting to harvest the beautiful bounty.
Eating fresh and preparing meals straight from the garden is lovely.

Here are a few great posts on freezing vegetables for winter use.
You can also visit my Preserving page for many more ideas!













Happy harvesting!

~Julia

Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Freeze Kale

It's about the easiest thing ever to freeze kale.
My garden had a nice healthy row of kale growing, and I harvested most of it today.
I love kale in soups, sauteed in olive oil, in casseroles, and in green smoothies.
It will be nice to have some put away in the freezer.


Here is how to freeze kale...

1. Separate the kale leaves and cut out the stems....if you want.

2. Fill a clean sink with water and add 1 cup of vinegar.

3. Soak leaves for a while and then rinse as you pull out, making sure there are no dirt particles.

4. Allow to fully dry on a towel.

5. Flash freeze kale on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.

6. Take out of the freezer and quickly put into freezer bags. You have to move fast because the kale starts to thaw.

7. Squeeze as much air out as possible before putting in the freezer.

That's it!

Hope you are having a lovely day!

~Julia


Friday, August 1, 2014

August 2014 Garden Tour

I think gardening is one of my most rewarding pleasures in life.
My garden is a source of peace and I love being out there to see what is happening, pick, and harvest.
Every day something is new and each year it looks a little different.
I definitely can't categorize myself as a "neat" gardener.
Nope.
I like it kind of untamed and loosely beautiful.
Many of the flowers self-seed and I like to see what becomes of God's green thumb.
I doubled my vegetable garden, so the weeding has been tremendous, but I am enjoying the harvest.
Lately, I have been toying around with the idea of selling out of my garden.
I have always wanted a road-side stand, and was so inspired to create something like this...{link here}
What fun!
I will need to plant a little more, as I am already noticing that we are needing most of what I am harvesting.
I will have a little extra to sell, though.
We'll see how it goes!

So...here is a little tour~ because I LOVE to snoop in other people's gardens.
And mine happens to be weeded....sort of...


 I have four raised beds in an enclosed space where I grow tomatoes, peppers, and lettuces.




This year, I am not sure what happened...I CANNOT grow lettuce.
Every attempt has failed.
I am lost....lettuce is THE easiest green to grow!

Most of the flowers in the garden were bought as starts from a local sale every year.
Gradually, they have either self-seeded, or I have divided the plants and planted in other spots.
I also have been gifted so many different flowers from neighbors who are willing to share.

{Back of the fenced garden.}

Off to the right of my enclosed garden is the row garden.
It's like going to the grocery store.
I take my bowl and fill it to the brim with vegetables for lunch and dinner.
It is lovely.






{Kale}
{Rainbow Swiss Chard}


I always, always plant a huge row of zinnias.
They are just so cheery!
 This year I included a row of sweet peas and my Mom let me borrow this cute little fence to let them climb.
Today I found the first bloom!

In the back of my fenced garden I have an herb garden tucked between fruit trees, the chicken coop, and the raspberries.



 And then there's Maud, the tin can scarecrow.
She has quite the suntan and ruby red lips.
Maud sits at the edge of the garden...watching over things.



Usually, I keep my chickens in their coop when the garden is in full swing because they think it is their personal snack bar.
Mabel is the exception....
 She sat on 12 eggs for over three weeks and hatched just one sweet little chick.
I let her roam just because :).

 
Hope you enjoyed a little snoop into my garden.
Enjoy these lovely, long summer days...
 

~Julia

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Freeze Rhubarb {Dry or Wet Pack}

 Oh sweet rhubarb...how I love thee.
I had a dear neighbor give us a whole PILE of rhubarb and decided I would freeze it to use this winter. 
 I also made a delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler for dessert that night, too.
Topped with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt... it was heavenly!


To Freeze Rhubarb:

1. Choose firm, tender, well colored stalks of rhubarb.
2. Wash thoroughly with cold or lukewarm water.


 3. Rhubarb varieties vary. If yours has a tough outer skin, just peel it off starting at the top. You can tell if it has a skin... it peels easily.




 5. Next, remove the ends of the rhubarb and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.


 6. Blanch the rhubarb pieces in boiling water for 1 minute. 
Promptly put it into ice water to retain color and flavor. 
This is especially helpful if you will be storing the rhubarb for many months.




 7. You can dry or wet pack Rhubarb. Wet pack involves freezing it in a honey, fruit juice, or sugar solution....which is best for long term storage.

 FOR DRY PACK:
Ladle the rhubarb into freezer bags, squeezing out any air. You can use a vacuum sealer or a straw. Simply seal the bag, leaving space for the straw and then suck out remaining air. Seal tight.

FOR WET PACK:
Rhubarb can be packed in a solution of sugar and water to help preserve color and flavor.
You only need enough solution to cover the fruit: about 1 cup per quart. 
It is not added as a preservative, but rather prevents browning and prevents drying.
Peach, white grape, or apple juice are good alternatives to processed sugar.

I researched most of my information from this site, and thought their information on sugar syrups was very helpful... 

Sugar Syrups
 
Type of SyrupSugarWaterYield
Fruit juice (peach, apple or white grape)004 cups
Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) (2 cups)06 cups6 cups
Light sugar2 cups6 cups7 cups
Medium sugar3 cups6 cups7.2 cups
Heavy sugar4 cups6 cups7.4 cups

If you are using fruit juice, you don't need to prepare anything. Just use it straight out of the bottle!

To prepare sugar or stevia syrups, just add to the water slowly heating on the stove.
Stir it constantly until everything is dissolved and then remove from heat.
Let it cool before adding it to the fruit.
 9. Put rhubarb and solution in a large bowl together and mix completely.
10. Ladle into freezer bags and eliminate any air.


To use, just set on the counter for a couple of hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
You will want to drain the wet pack before use.

If you are CRAVING rhubarb...you have to try this Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler.
Oh, it is sooo good!



Enjoy!

~Julia

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fourth of July Bunting

*I am re-posting this great tutorial....just in case you are looking for a last minute 4th of July craft. They make sweet little hostess gifts if you are spending the Fourth with friends!


The Fourth of July is one of my all time favorite holidays.
Spending the day celebrating our great country and all of its freedom is such a privilege.
Hot dogs grilling, sparklers at dusk, the kids swimming all day, and sitting on our back porch with blankets at night to watch all of the fireworks across the valley top it off for me:)

I wanted to make a little bunting to hang for the festivities, and came up with this...



Yes...I used pom-poms again.
I can't resist!
I just love that it gives the garland a little bling for the Fourth of July.
You could also add jute webbing...which I happened to have on hand.


Would you like to make one, too?
It is super simple and there is no sewing involved.


I gathered what I had on hand:
jute webbing
ticking fabric
buttons
pom pom fringe
rick rack
and a glue gun

I cut about 5-6 feet of the pom-
 pom fringe and removed the poms where I was going to place the little flags.


You could also use rick rack...it would look so darling!

I ripped {on the seam} ticking fabric in strips about 10 inches long by 4 inches wide.
Just leave the edges raw...it adds to the charm.
I cut a little "V" at the bottom.

To attach, just evenly space them and use a little hot glue to secure.



I like to fold the ends of the rick rack or pom pom fringe over and put a little dab of glue to finish the edge.


You could add more embellishment, like the just webbing if you want.
Lately, I have seen many people using the jute on buntings and thought it was such a wonderful idea:).
Red, white, and blue...perfect!
Just cut to fit and then glue them on the same way.
Buttons would be cute, too!



That is it!
The bunting is so fast and easy to make and a festive addition to any room:).  

Have a great day!
~Julia
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