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Potting up Peppers

November 19th, 2014

I harvested all my peppers almost two months ago, they’ve been living in containers on the back porch. This time of year my back porch is like a walk in cooler, it keeps things fresh forever. We’ve been eating fresh peppers almost daily. The time had come for the rest of them to go into the freezer.
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So I chopped, and chopped, and chopped some more. I fried, and fried, and fired some more. Pretty soon all the peppers were prepped and ready to be saved for eating this winter.
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I ended up with a nice little stockpile of peppers to enjoy this winter. No doubt they’ll be enjoyed in omelets, on pizza, and in fajitas.

What are you preserving from the garden this week?

Picking Pecks of Peppers

September 25th, 2014

This year I had a bumper pepper harvest. I could have left them on the plants longer, but I wanted to clear out that spot in the garden to move the strawberries. Thus I ended up picking mountains of peppers. Most of them will be roasted over a fire and canned, some will be stuffed and frozen (here’s my recipe if you’re interested).
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Some of them were given to neighbors, others have already been used for delicious meals. There are still a good many to process, looks like I’ll be busy tonight!
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The small peppers are the Mini Bells I talked about last week, I’m thinking I’ll make mass quantities of bite sized peppers stuffed with sausage, onions, garlic, herbs and cheese. I made a batch of ricotta earlier this week just for them. I think popping a few of these beauties out of the freezer for a quick breakfast or dinner will be so convenient.

Do you like green peppers? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

The Corn Bee

September 3rd, 2013

Yesterday, we celebrating Labor Day by processing corn with our neighbors. Having a bee, is a great way to make a big job much more fun, the work goes much faster when you have someone to talk to while working. It ended up being their best year yet. We spent the day husking, cooking, cooling, cutting and freezing dozens of ears of corn.
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We ended up coming home with quite a bit of corn for our freezer. This will certainly bring the taste of summer back on a few cold winter days.

Do you ever have group work days?

Friday Favorite: Garden Peas

July 12th, 2013

I’ve always been a big fan of garden peas, they’re just so sweet and tasty.  I rarely every have enough for freezing, most of them are enjoyed within a few hours of being picked.
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Since I never end up with enough peas for the freezer, this year I planted a ton.  Two seventy foot long rows to be exact, along with a few six foot rows in the back potager for fresh eating. I grew ‘Green Arrow’ from High Mowing Seeds as my main crop peas. Other sowings included: ‘Little Marvel’, ‘Lincoln’, and ‘Dakota’.
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My plan finally worked, on Wednesday evening we spent an hour shelling peas. After shelling our harvest weighed in at 8 pounds. They were blanched and packed into two cup glass containers for freezing.
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Typically I’m not much of one for freezing or canning much from the garden, peas are the exception because winter soups and stews just aren’t the same without them!
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We’ve also been enjoying our share fresh from the garden. Mostly, I’ve been steaming them then tossing them with butter and some homemade duck breast prosciutto. I always read about traditional recipes featuring peas and mint, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to put mint with peas. One of these days I will.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy garden peas? Do you like peas and mint together?

Preparing for a Bountiful Season

April 18th, 2011

This time of year the pickings get slim in our freezer and basement pantry. The longer I garden and preserve food the better I get and not ending up with too much food come spring. The only things that remain in the freezer from last summer are: 4 gal. bags of wild black raspberries, 1.5 gal. bags of strawberries, 9 pints of corn, 2 cups of peas and 1 gal. bag of roasted tomatoes. Since the freezer is as empty as it will get, I defrosted it yesterday. I always defrost it during April or May.

I pulled everything out, put it in coolers and the fridge freezer, then I turned off the freezer, opened the door, lined the bottom with a bunch of towels and turned on a fan. In an hour or two it was completely defrosted (one reason to do this yearly is because the frost doesn’t build up and take as long to thaw). I wiped out any excess water and turned in on. When it was cold once again, I put everything back in.

I have a specific method for organizing my freezer. The worst thing ever is finding things that have gone bad because they get pushed to the back of the freezer and you forget they’re in there. When you have a big deep freeze it’s important to keep it organized and keep a list of what’s in there. That way you’re never suprised either by finding something you forgot was in there, or by reaching for something that isn’t there.

I organize the freezer shelves into types of food:
top shelf – berries, fruits, and veggies
middle shelf – whole chickens, ham, prepared food, and bread
bottom shelf – chicken, meaty bones, organ meats, and lard
bottom compartment – venison: steaks, roasts, and ground
door – nuts, grains, things frozen in jars: stock, corn, etc

I like to keep track of what’s in the freezer so I know exactly how much of each thing I have inside without having to open the door. I do this by keeping a list of what’s inside on the front door written in dry erase marker. When I remove something, I update the total for that item. This is a quick and easy way to keep track of what’s in your freezer. I organize my list by type of item, but you could also write on the area of the door that corresponds to the shelf inside.

We do have a lot of venison in the freezer since hunting season was in late November and Mr Chiots got three deer. I also just ordered 150 lbs of meaty bones, chicken feet, beef liver & heart for Lucy, which will take up a lot of the available space. By the time I start freezing summer berries and other vegetables we’ll have just enough space for them. Keeping your freezer full helps make it more efficient since your not cooling huge unused areas, and the cold food helps keep the freezer cold. If your freezer is more than half empty simply fill with plastic milk jugs filled 3/4 of the way with water. They’ll freeze and can be used to keep coolers cold in the summer, and they’ll help keep your freezer from using so much electricity!

Do you have a deep freezer? How do you keep track of what’s inside?

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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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