Friday, August 21, 2015

Farm Friday

Making "sun"-dried tomatoes

Tomato powder from tomato skins

Salsa and marinara sauce
The last two weeks have been so productive I've barely had time to blog - hence the lack of a "Farm Friday" or "Farm Update" last week. I recently texted my daughter that I was looking forward to winter. Her reply? "Who are you and what have you done with my mother?"

Here's some of what I've been up to, in no particular order:

  • Learned to water bath can and made marinara sauce, salsa, tomatoes, tomato juice,and pickled okra. I borrowed a water bath canner but it didn't have a lid. I improvised and ended up steam burning my arm. Thank goodness for aloe vera plants and my bug bite salve which has lots of anti-inflammatory and healing properties. A canner is on my wish list for next year since I've pretty much finished out this year's canning season.
  • Also made tomato jam and watermelon jelly. This led me to the next activity...
  • Researched pH meters as I'm not quite sure the jam and jelly were acidic enough. The jam most likely is but maybe not the jelly. Since I'm not sure, I'm also refrigerating them.
  • Made tomato powder (which can be reconstituted into tomato paste, tomato sauce, and tomato juice) from tomato skins removed to can tomatoes
  • Used up some frozen bread ends to make plain and Italian breadcrumbs
  • Chopped and froze 3 quarts of bell peppers
  • Hosted our monthly Piedmont Sustainable Living group - we had a good crowd over to learn about wine making.
  • Worked both farmers' markets
  • Hosted a family at our farm stay
  • Fielded two inquiries about our farm stay
  • Accepted reservations for farm stay guests this weekend - a quick turnaround time as today I'll have to clean the house immediately after our current guests leave.
  • Made a delicious roasted dish with potatoes, garlic, red onions, and lambsquarters. If last year was the year of wild mushrooms, this is the year of lambsquarters. Love those three season weeds!
  • Took my SUV to the shop for transmission work (she's 12 years old and has over 200,000 miles on her so she's been a good vehicle). The dealership kept telling me that it was something other than the transmission. They did repairs and I still had the same problem. The transmission shop immediately diagnosed the problem - and described exactly what I've been experiencing. I do think part of the problem is the men at the dealership tend to not listen to women, whereas the transmission shop is owned by a woman. Not the first time sexism has resulted in my not getting acceptable results from a business.
  • As part of our homesteading journey, we try to create as little waste as possible. When we return from a farmers' market, I survey what we have left over and determine what I can make or preserve and what I can't.
  • I've been using up not perfect tomatoes to make an Arab dish called "Shakshouka" that one of our summer interns taught me years ago. Her version is slightly different than what I've found on the internet. It's a great way to use tomatoes. It is time consuming as you have to cook down the tomatoes first so I made a double batch of the tomatoes on Wednesday and was able to make a quick dish on Thursday. Another way I saved was to use the tomato skins left over from canning to make tomato powder.
  • We also cut down on waste by feeding leftovers to our animals and composting what they can't eat. We also feed tea leaves and coffee grounds to the worms in our worm bin.
  • Baked 4 loaves of bread. My bread wasn't rising as much as it should lately and now I know it's a combination of flour that is a little heavy and using too much water.
  • Cooked and ate delicata squash for the first time. I love that they're easy to cut, have a delicious taste, and unlike other winter squash, the skin can be eaten.
  • Made a new home cleaning recipe - a toilet bowl cleaner - that I like so far. I'm still working on having to buy fewer specialty items and instead to buy some basic ingredients in bulk and make my own products.
  • Was running out of some of my other home products, so mixed up a couple of batches of face cleaner, countertop cleaner, and toothpaste.
  • Learning that it's okay to enjoy your job. In our culture, we're taught that "work" should be something that's undesirable and distasteful. But I'm learning that when you do meaningful, productive work - such as running a farm and homesteading - you shouldn't feel guilty about liking it!
Have a great week!


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

Holy cow! There are a lot of words. Very productive. My friends are big on dehydrating & powdering celery for seasoning.

Be well!

David said...

Cherie, sheeesh, your making me tired just reading about all the accomplishments you have done this week. I have had several people ask if I make tomato jam. I don't have a recipe for that and all the Internet recipes use jello in the jam which didn't really seem like something I wanted to do. If it's not a family secret could you post your recipe for the jam? You would sure make some people happy in Nebraska.

Have a great day on the White Flint Farm Homestead.