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Enjoying the Fruits of our Labor

December 31st, 2011

I mentioned earlier this fall that I grew popcorn in the potager I share with my mom. I’ve grown ‘Strawberry’ Popcorn before, which produces tasty little deep red ears of corn that are beautiful while growing in the garden and after harvest. The seeds for this variety were from Botanical Interests. This summer I decided to try ‘Pennsylvania Butter’ which I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.


Our popcorn from this year has been up the attic drying since we harvested it a few months ago. We usually save it until winter and shell it while we’re watching a movie. We ran out of the popcorn from the local farm earlier this week, so we spent an evening shelling our homegrown popcorn.

One of the best things about growing your own popcorn or sourcing heirloom popcorn from a local farmer is the taste. Once you make the switch you’ll be wondering why you ever ate the plain yellow popcorn from the store, which tastes kind of like puffed corn cereal. If you’ve never eaten heirloom popcorn I’d highly recommend giving it a try, but be warned, you’ll never be able to eat regular popcorn again!

The weather this past summer was not kind to corn, we didn’t even think we were going to get any for the pantry. About fifteen percent of the ears were moldy because it was so wet towards the end of summer, luckily the rest was fairly nice. The ears were rather small, but I wasn’t home to give them a dose of fertilizer in August. Next time I grow popcorn I’ll underplant with clover to provide lots of nitrogen and add some kelp at planting time. Considering it was only my second year growing popcorn I was impressed with my harvest.

I’ve had a few questions from readers about making stovetop popcorn, which is the only kind we make here since we don’t have a microwave. It tastes so much better than other cooking methods and it’s a great way to add some extra coconut oil and pastured butter to your diet (if you haven’t heard about how great these are for your health head on over to the Weston A Price Foundation and read a few articles, once you do you’ll be searching for ways to add them). There’s a how-to video over on the Your Day Blog so you can see how I do it. We’ve been enjoying some this week while we enjoy the 007 Days of Christmas!

Are there any harvests from your summer garden that you’re especially enjoying now?

Sprucing Up the Cottage

December 30th, 2011

Mr Chiots and I are very handy people and enjoy working on home improvement projects. Over the past couple years we’ve been focusing more on the gardens than on the house. Now that there’s a possibility that we might sell this house, we have a few projects to get done to make it more attractive to future buyers.

The first project we’re going to tackle is to install new countertops. We’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while, but it just hasn’t happened. If I had all the money in the world and was planning on living here forever, I would put in soapstone counters. That’s not the case however, so we decided that butcher block countertops would be the way to go. Lucky for us, our kitchen is small, so it won’t be a very expensive endeavor.

We’ve been measuring and shopping around, figuring up how much this project is going to cost. We think it’s a wise place to put our money as it will make out kitchen look very nice and help set our house apart from others on the market.  I’ll be making a how-to video for Ethel during the process so you’ll get to see exactly how it’s done.

The list of things we have to get done is quite long.  On that list is: redoing the floors in the main bathroom, new porch posts, finish the entire upstairs as it’s completely unfinished, new door to the outside in the kitchen, as well as a lot of garden chores. It’s shaping up to be a very busy 2012, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Do you have any home improvement projects in your future? What kind of kitchen counters are your favorite?

The Winter Garden

December 29th, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s going on out in the gardens of Chiot’s Run. We’ve had a fairly mild winter so far, although the ground is starting to freeze. We woke up with a dusting of snow on the ground yesterday morning and temperatures dipping down into the low twenties. I have a few overwintering items this year, not as much as usual since I was gone in August when most of them should have been planted.

There are leeks that will be harvested soon and most likely be used in potato soup. I’m trying to eat up all the potatoes before they start to sprout in the basement. There’s also a ton of kale. A few years ago I planted ‘Red Russian’ kale and each year I let a plant go to seed in the summer, which provides me with enough kale plants that pop up around the garden to last us through the winter. I also have some ‘Rainbow Lacinato’ kale growing in a raised bed in the back, it’s quite beautiful with its deep dark purple and green leaves that have only gotten more beautiful now that winter has arrived!


There are also a few other greens like lettuce, spinach and arugula. I have found through some trials that ‘Catalina’ spinach from Renee’s Garden overwinters much better than many of the other spinach varieties I’ve tried. I’m also trying some ‘Even Star Winter’ arugula this year as well since arugula is one of my favorite greens. There are a few random lettuces left in the garden that were seeded with the little dibs and dabs that remained in a few old seed packets, this red lettuce sprung up from one of those!

There are a few other random things growing, like some Japanese bunching onions, which grow all year long multiplying slowly. They provide green onions all year long, but especially in winter. I use them for making kimchi and cooking.

There’s not quite as much going on as usual in my winter garden, someday I hope to have a lot more going on including a big hoop house. Each year I learn more and more and with each experimentation.

What’s growing in your garden? Anything making it to you plate?

Suggestions?

December 28th, 2011

This coming spring, Mr Chiots and I are headed down to Florida for a few weeks.  It’s actually a work trip, so we’ll be filming a few events and working for some of the time, but there will be some time to relax. Visiting the Dry Tortugas National Park is at the top of our list, and of course we’ll be visiting Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park as well.

We’ll be driving with our tiny trailer of course and seeing a few sights along the way.  We’ll probably head down the eastern coast and return via the western coast of Florida and then north.  We don’t have our route set in stone, we’ll decide that based on interesting places we want to visit along the way.

Any suggestions for great gardens or any sights along the way on down in Florida that we shouldn’t miss?  Restaurants, farmer’s markets, farms, or any other great places to stop?

007 Days of Christmas

December 27th, 2011

For quite a few years now Mr Chiots and I have been spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s watching as many James Bond movies as we can fit in. It all started years ago when Spike TV had the 007 days of Christmas and playing James Bond movies 24/7 during this week. We used to watch them on cable, but then we cancelled that. Then we had Netflix and would get them from there and the library, but the library copies never played very well and we cancelled our Netflix. This year we decided we’d start buying a few of the 007 movies on blu-ray each year until we have the entire series.

We especially love the old James Bond movies, there’s just something fun about them. I don’t know if I have a favorite Bond, I like them all for various reasons. I’m certainly looking forward to the new one that’s scheduled to come out in late 2012.

The blu-ray copies are fantastic, they remastered them from the original reels and they did a great job. We’ve only had time to watch two so far, but we have the rest of the week to go and we’re looking forward to seeing the rest.  We’ll actually be taking a few evenings off, popping up some popcorn, and snuggling up on the couch to get our fill of James Bond!

What’s your favorite old movie?

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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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