Saturday mornings used to find us heading to Big Town to eat out breakfast and do some activity. While we still like to do that at times, we have learned to make as yummy of a breakfast here at home for a lot less. This morning I decided to listen to more of You Bet Your Garden while cooking. I began yesterday while cleaning up my kitchen and processing some green tomatoes. The most recent podcast talks about drying hydrangeas, how to save tomato seeds, amaryllis and more. (The last link may not take you to the exact episode I was listening to, but it should take you to the most recent one.)
Farm Market Swap
Last Saturday I joined several other friends for a few hours. We talked gardens, family, farms and many other topics. The main reason for getting together, though, was to swap items.
“If you made it, grew it, baked it or canned it, bring it to swap with friends. Make sure you also bring a box or bag to take home your new goodies.”
This is the second year I have joined in and loved it just as much this year as last year. Knowing ahead of time that this event was going to take place, I have been thinking all summer what I wanted to bring. Last year I brought some “normal” items: crushed tomatoes, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, a few different jams. I ended up taking too much, as the group was not that big and most people only brought a few items.
This year I was thinking of more unusual things, items that perhaps people do not usually make. I ended up taking blackberry syrup (I used this recipe, but did not let it thicken into a jelly) and chocolate raspberry sauce (pictured above). Not only was it easier to take 12 jars, as compared to 24+, but it was nice to have just two things to display.
I also did a quick pick of the garden that morning, so put them in a basket . No one needed up wanting to swap for them, but they sure did look pretty on the table.
Next year, I think I will take Jack along, if he keeps showing interest in canning. My hope has been to raise both kids to know how to do this and love doing so. My way of passing along the ‘art’ of this skill. So far it has worked. We make canning fun and kid friendly. No actual canning or use of the stove yet, of course, but there are many ways they can help. Above you can see how Jack helped smash the raspberries, add the ingredients and then stir up the sauce before I put it on the stove. Once it was done, I let him lick the stirring spoon and thanked him for helping me.
Green Tomato Pie Filling
Green Tomato Pie Filling was a new thing for me to try this year. Early in the week I was afraid there was going to be a frost, so I picked all the tomatoes that were ripe. There were so many green ones out left on the plants; I did not want them to go to waste. If I had waited till after a frost, they would have been unable to be canned.
As with any new recipe, there was a chance I would not have like this one. I have never tried it and do not know of anyone else who had made this recipe before. There was the chance I was not going to like the recipe, which I hoped would not happen as it was a more involved canning recipe than I am used to doing.
After making a batch and filling a canner load of jars, I tasted a bit that was left over. My batch resulted in just over 6 quarts, instead of the 7 noted in the recipe.
It was good! Almost like a fancy apple pie flavor. I am not sure I will make this every year, but will keep it on file for future use. For now, I know what I am taking to Thanksgiving dinner. If I tell my extended family what it is, they will not try it. To say they do not like to try new food is a major understatement. If I call it “Apple Pie” then they will try some. Once one or two taste it and deem it good, then the rest will follow. Not sure how I came from this family, cooking wise, but thankfully my husband has encouraged me to try new things. You never know what you may like.
Potatoes (and new friends)
I dug up all the potatoes plants put in late this year. It was a trial planting, as I had never planted them before AND it was basically July by the point they got into the ground.
George and Jack had a grand time sorting through the dirt in their wheelbarrows looking for potatoes among the shovel fulls of dirt I kept adding. Every time they found one a cheer went up.
A few neighbor boys came down to play and joined in the fun. These boys are new to our neighborhood and soon their mom followed along to introduce herself. It was good to get to know another household that we may not have had a chance to meet. They are not our immediate neighbors, nor on our street. Sad to say, after living here several years, I still do not know everyone on my block. I do know most of them around us on our side of the streets, and across the street, just not all of them behind us.
Produce Stand Winding Down
At the beginning of the week I would have told you that this may be the last week for our produce stand. That statement would have been false.
The stand now is very Autumn oriented. I am just not sure if those who stop by are as wanting of these items as they are of tomatoes and peppers.
When we first began putting a table of produce out front, I listened to others and what worked for them. It was a failure. See, every area is made up of a different group of people who like different things. We are not on a major thoroughfare, not do we got to the marker in a Big Town. A lot of the people who stop by are older, though some are young families. Most are looking to see if we have something they might need before heading to the store. Organic or nonGMO or pesticide free does not matter to most of our shoppers. Low prices and the appearance of tomatoes and peppers is the main things. Beyond that other items sell well, though not in as large of a quantity.
The squash we have on the table may sell, though I am expecting to either store or can up a lot of it. We have not tried corn stalks or field corn before, so that remains to be determined. The pumpkins may go, but it is going to require us to mark them down. (I did this change this morning.) While the large white pumpkins may sell for $8 or $9 each, or could be sold by the pound, somewhere else, for us that is too expensive. (We have sold 1 in the last 3 weeks.) It is something we keep in mind when trying to decide what to plant, or look for, to add to our stand.
Next weekend holds an event in downtown Small Town. If I have nothing else going on, I may take these items and set up on a corner down there. With more people, and some not from our area, we may see some of these items sell. George and Jack would also like the adventure and it may give me time with a friend, if she is available, to catch up.
Note: sometimes a picture can show us a truer view of what is right in front of us. For example, I noticed several things in this photo after coming inside to post it:
- my wagon is in dire need of a good cleaning. Harvest season here brings lots of dust.
- the tape for the sign has left unsightly marks.
- we sold a pumpkin! I did not even notice it missing when I was there, but it obviously is not there now. Seems marking down the price worked for at least one pumpkin today.
When I stand back from the stand, or take a picture and look at it inside, it gives me a view that perhaps someone driving by or stopping by for the first time might see. Sometimes I see areas of improvement and other times I can see more clearly what is working.
We did the last planned mowing of our grass. The first blowing of the leaves also needed to be done, but they ended up being mowed instead.
After a trip to the hardware store to get a new broom I will do my first fall sweeping of the front porch and walkways. The boys broke my other one in half. In case you were wondering, no you can not catapult your brother off the steps by having him stand on the handle and you press on the end of the broom that is handing off the edge. You know, if case you wanted to replicate the experiment.
The squirrels found my pumpkin decorations on the stoop and made a good meal of them. I will have to wash these off and rearrange things. Past experience told me this would happen, which is why I put the pumpkins out there that are starting to go anyway. No use having them eat up the good pumpkins.
Things that did not happen
Pizza Sauce, Apple Sauce and Roasted Pumpkin were also on the to-do list this week but were not accomplished. The day is still not over, so one or more may be done.
How has your week gone? I would love to hear how your garden is doing, or if it is already at an end what you miss about it.