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Not Giving Up Yet

March 28th, 2017

Winter is not willing to give up quite yet. This past week we’ve have quite a bit of winter weather. It’s been extremely beautiful though, so I can’t complain. Soon enough the snow will melt and we’ll be in that horrid in between stage where everything is a dull, muddy mess.


Friday Favorite: The Last Blizzard

March 24th, 2017

Just when I thought my snowshoeing was over for the year we had a big blizzard hit (last Monday/Tuesday). Out came my snowshoes again and off I went.

I managed to get in a solid week of snowshoeing before the snow started getting to thin on the trails I use. Even though I’m really for spring this year, I was happy to have a final week of one of my favorite winter activities.

What’s something you will miss about the winter when it’s gone?

Learning New Skills

March 22nd, 2017

In the winter I spend a lot of time sewing. Last year, Mr Chiots got me this serger for Christmas. It’s a nice machine, I read through the manual and have used it a few times. Since the manual isn’t the greatest, I finally decided to purchase the Beginner Serging class from Craftsy.com.

I’m on lesson three at the moment and thoroughly enjoying the class and I’m learning a lot. The techniques I’m learning will definitely come in handy on some sewing projects I have planned in the coming weeks.

One of the things I really appreciated about this class was figuring out how easy it is to thread my serger. I’ve heard horror stories about how difficult sergers are to thread. In fact, I was at my local fabric store once and a lady was dropping off her serger to be threaded by the sewing machine repair guy.

Now that I’m mastering what I can do with my serger, I’m certainly looking forward to all the projects I have in the works.

What new skills are you learning this year?

Clearing out the Freezer

March 21st, 2017

One of the things I’m always working on in February, March, and April, is clearing out the freezer of all the vegetables frozen last summer and clearing out the pantry of all canned and preserved foods. Every summer, we participate in a corn bee with the neighbors. That means we end up with 30 or so pints of sweet corn in the freezer. I grow mountains of onions each year, which we enjoy all winter long. Corn isn’t really one of those things we eat as a side dish, so I developed a recipe for corn salsa that we enjoy on fajitas, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads.

Generally I have cilantro growing in a windowsill, so the only thing I need to buy for this recipe is a lime. When making anything with limes or lemons, I always include the zest. It adds a much more concentrated citrus flavor along with a hint of bitterness, which really helps round out pretty much any dish.

After zesting and juicing the lime, I mix in chopped red onion and some salt. These are allowed to sit on the counter for an hour or so. I find that this step really helps mellow out the strong onion flavor, especially when it comes to onions that have been stored for a few months.

After letting the onion mellow, I add sweet corn, a chopped pickled jalapeño (which I can in the fall), and fresh cilantro. It’s a quick and easy way to use up loads of the preserved garden goodness. This salsa is great on top of salads, carnitas, fajitas, burritos, and equally good in omelets or frittatas for breakfast!

What’s one of your favorite recipes that uses up lots of preserved garden bounty?

Getting Better with Time

March 20th, 2017

When it comes to edible gardening, one area I always felt like I struggled a bit was succession planting.  Sometimes I simply forgot to sow the additional seeds, other times my various sowings matured at the same time. Over the past few years, I noticed that it’s starting to become second nature to me and I’ve figured out a few things to make it work for me.

One of the things I learned was that it’s not always a good idea to start something “every two weeks” as the gardening books tell you. If the soil and the temperature is cooler, things grow more slowly and sometimes the later planting will catch up to the early one. Starting additional planting in flats indoors also makes them grow more quickly than those planted outside. If your first planting is just being planted in the garden, transplant shock and cooler temperatures can slow growth rate allowing the indoor seedlings catch up.

Perhaps this is only something that affect us northern gardeners, but after a few years I find that a three or four week schedule is often better than the two weeks most normally recommended. It also makes it easier to manage because I’m not doing it as often. It’s nice to be able to have fresh lettuce throughout spring/summer/fall, which is the main reason I have been trying to improve my success in this area.

Do you plant in succession to have a longer growing season? Do you have any great tips to share? Is this an area you struggle? 

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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