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Homegrown Celery

August 21st, 2009

This year I decided to grow celery. My sole reason for growing it was for my tomato soup (our favorite canned item by far). I bought some ‘Tendercrip’ celery seeds from Baker Creek this spring and I started the seeds in February. They took a while to germinate, but when they did, every single one germinated. I ended up with 24 celery plants. I gave some to my mom and planted 12-14 in my gardens.
Homegrown_Celery
I’ve been waiting for my tomato harvest to pick up so I have enough for a batch of soup, and I was hoping my celery would be ready in time. I was pleasantly surpised when I went out to harvest a celery plant yesterday and I found this lovely one, weighing in at 1 lb 10 oz – WOW.
Big_Celery_Harvest
I didn’t blanch them, I happen to like the green celery. Those leaves will come in handy as well, they will add excellent flavor to my soup and to chicken stock and soups this winter. Another plus in my garden is that nothing eats celery. Since I have deer, rabbits, chipmunks and groundhogs that eat a lot of other things, anytime I can find a plant that will do well in the back without animal threats I’m one happy gardener.

Have you ever grown celery?

Wild Ground Cherries

August 20th, 2009

One day while reading Skippy’s Garden Blog I came across her post about wild tomatillos. I immediately recognized that I have these growing in my garden. At first I thought they were a weed, but when I saw this post I knew this is what they were. I knew they were members of the nightshade family (like a few other weeds in my gardens).
Wild_Tomatillo_plant
I’ve had them growing in my garden for quite a few years, but I’ve never eaten them. I always thought they looked like the ground cherries we grew when I was young. I guess I’ll have to let them mature and see what they are for sure, but I think they’re wild ground cherries.
Wild_Tomatillos
I only have one or two plants so I don’t think they’ll produce that much fruit. I found this article on Mother Earth News about them. Looks like some jam may be in my future.

Do you have any wild edibles growing in you gardens?

Keep Your Fuchsia Blooming

August 19th, 2009

I have a fuchsia on my side porch by one of my hummingbird feeders. It’s quite lovely and the hummingbirds love it.
Fuschia
In order to keep it blooming all summer long I’ve been cutting off the fruits when they form. The fruits are those little green nubs that appear when a blossom dries up, you can see one in front of the flower in this photo.
Fuchsia_Bloom
If you keep these cut off the plant will continue blooming, if you don’t they’ll quit blooming.

Do you have any great tips for keeping certain plants in tip top shape?

Old Friendships

August 18th, 2009

I spent this weekend in Cincinnati, OH with a few of my girlfriends from college. We had a great time staying up late, chatting about everything we’re doing now and things we did then.
Cincinnati_Sign
We enjoyed eating all the food that’s specific to the great city of Cincinnati like Skyline Chili and Graeter’s Ice Cream.
Skyline_chili
Graeters_Ice_cream_cone
We visited the campus of our alma mater and got the see the excited new freshman moving in (which is what we were doing 15 years ago). On Saturday night, we went downtown to watch a movie at Fountain Square and enjoy the city life like we did in college.
people_at_fountain_square
PNC_bank_building
We even took a carriage ride around the city that night (because of the economy they’re the same price they were when we were in college 15 years ago).
Carriage_Ride
We all live in different places now, with families, kids, husbands and dogs keeping busy with our individual lives. It’s always good to drop all of that for a weekend and get together to remember the fun times we had back when we were young and in college without a care in the world (or a cent to our names).

Do you ever get together with old friends?

Fermenting Some Pickles

August 16th, 2009

A couple weeks ago Mr Chiot’s 2nd mom sent me this book that was her mom’s. It’s an old Farm Journal Country Cookbook. It’s from the 70′s so all of the photos are quite fun, it’s amazing how far food photography has come since then (just check out smittenkitchen.com)
Farm_Journal_Country_Cookbook
While leafing through it I was trying to decide what I could make from it. It has all kinds of exciting recipes, it’s particularly good for seasonal cooking recipes. It also has some interesting kitchen items that most people don’t keep in their kitchens any more, like a stone or a paraffined brick.
Old_Cookbook
I came across this recipe for 14-day Sweet Pickles. Since I’ve been wanting to make a batch of brined pickles I decided this would be the perfect recipe to try.
Fermented_pickle_recipe
I now have a batch of pickles in the dining room brining away. They’ll sit in their brine for, then on the 8th day I start the week-long process of finishing the pickles. I’m kind of excited to see how they turn out. I’ll be sharing some with Brian’s parents next time they come for a visit.
fermenting_pickles

14-Day Sweet Pickles
adaptation of an heirloom recipe long prized in country kitchens

3 1/2 qts (2″) pickling cucumbers (about 4 lbs)
1 c. coarse flake pickling salt
2 qts boiling water
1/2 tsp powdered alum (I’m not using alum in my recipe)
5 c. vinegar
3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
4 -2″ cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 c. sugar

1. Wash cucumbers carefully; cut in lengthwise halves and place in stone crock, glass, pottery or enamel-lined pan (I cut mine into big chunks).
2. Prepare brine by dissolving salt in boiling water; pour over cucumbers. Weight cucumbers down with a place almost as large as the crock and lay a stone or parraffined brick (not marble or limestone) on plate to keep cucumbers under the brine. Let stand 1 week.
3. On the 8th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
4. On the 9th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water mixed with alum over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
5. On the 10th day, drain; pour 2 qts fresh boiling water over cucumbers. Let stand 24 hours.
6. The next day, drain. Combine vinegar, 3 c. sugar, celery seeds and cinnamon; heat to boiling point and pour over cucumbers.
7. For the next 3 days, drain, retaining liquid. Reheat liquid each morning adding 1/2 c. sugar each time. After the last heating, on the 14th day, pack pickles into hot jars. Remove cinnamon sticks; pour boiling hot liquid over pickles; adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath (212) 5 minutes. Remove jars and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing type. Makes 5-6 pints. (current standards say to process pickles for 10 minutes in a water bath canner).

Old_Book
Do you have any old heirloom cookbooks in your kitchen? Have you ever made a recipe from it?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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