August Harvest Recipes

Every day there’s more to harvest from the garden.  Tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatillos, potatoes, onions, beans, squash … the list goes on.  Here are some favorite August recipes that we use to enjoy the in-season bounty.  Click on the blue text below to see the selected recipe:

tomatoes

Tomatoes ~ Our basic salsa recipe and ideas for fun additions

eggplant

Eggplants ~ Pan-fried eggplant, my favorite!

blueberries

Blueberries ~ Several ideas for combining lemon and blueberries in sweet treats

chard

Chard ~ Quiche or stir-fried

kale

Kale ~ two ways

Basil

Herbs ~ tips for harvesting and preserving

peppers

Peppers ~ preserving hot sauce

pickles

And in the peak of harvest season, never forget about pickling!

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House Photo Update

You may not have guessed, among stories of vegetables, gardening, and children in nature, that we’re building a house!  Actually, we go to work and pay other people (who are much smarter about construction) to build it for us.  We’re definitely impressed by the work of our contractor, Fiddlehead Construction.  Everything has been going very smoothly and we’re excited to announce that we have the very beginnings of first floor walls!

Sorry for the delay to all those who have been pleading for photos.  Here’s the long-awaited update:

Western View:

Western-View

Western-View-8-20

 

Northern View:Northern-View

Northern-View-8-20

 

South-Eastern View:View-from-South-East

View-from-South-East-8-20

South-Western View:View-from-South-West

View-from-South-West-8-20

 

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Zucchinis Galore

zucchini-harvestIt’s August, and that means we’ve got plenty of zucchinis… in fact, we may have a few zucchinis too many.  One of our favorite ways to use a bunch of these prolific vegetables each year is in a big batch of zucchini relish.  We love using the relish all year long on sausages, hot dogs, and mixed with mayonnaise to make tartar sauce.  This year, I adapted our family’s recipe, souring it via natural fermentation.  Enjoy!

Canned Zucchini Relish

  • zucchini-relish-shredded-mixtureGrind the following ingredients using the grater attachment of your food processor (the one you might use making latkes):
    -10 cups summer squash or zucchini
    -4 cups onion
    -1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper
  • Add 5 tablespoons salt.  Mix and let stand, covered, overnight.  Drain and rinse in cold water (don’t worry about getting rid of every drop… some moisture will help in the canning process).  Place in a large pot with:
    -2 1/4 cups distilled vinegar
    -4 cups sugar
    -1 tablespoon ground nutmeg, mustard, turmeric, cornstarch
    -1/2 teaspoon pepper, celery seed
  • Bring to boil, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.  Stir occasionally to help all of the air out.  By the end of the 30 minutes, most of the air or bubbles should have escaped from your mixture.
  • With ladle and funnel, fill hot sterilized canning jars and cap  -or-  fill jars and can in hot water bath for 10 minutes. 

annual-supply-of-relish

Naturally Fermented Zucchini Relish

  • soured-mixtureGrind the following ingredients using the grater attachment of your food processor (the one you might use making latkes):
    -5 cups summer squash or zucchini
    -2 cups onion
    -1 red bell pepper
  • Pack into a 1/2 gallon ball jar with 1 tablespoon sea salt and 1/2 cup fermented pickle/sauerkraut brine or whey.  Cover and let sit, stirring to release bubbles daily, until sour.  This took about 5 days for me.  It can vary, depending on the temperature of your house and your preferred level of sourness.
  • After souring, in a large bowl, mix:
    -Shredded mixture
    -1 cup sugar
    -1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, mustard, turmeric
    -a dash of pepper and celery seed
  • Repack mixture into 1/2 gallon glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.

fermented-relish

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Garden Camp, in Photos

I know, I know… I already posted photos about how awesome our Green Thumbs Gardening Camp was.  We just finished our second week – this time in August – and had just as much (maybe even a little more) fun!  Stacy and I are already getting excited for next year.

In August, we get to reap what has been sown.  Instead of getting creative with salad, herbs and rhubarb for camp-harvested snacks, we feasted on rainbow home fries, kale chips, zucchini bread, flowers, greens, and plenty of pickles.  Beds cleared of spring crops were planted for students who will return in September.  We had another great field trip to Fifth Fence Farm.  And, of course, we played every day in the water and on the playground.  Check out our adventures, in photos, below:

The last of our pea harvest

The last of our pea harvest

Pulling pea pleants

Pulling pea plants

Flower pot art

Flower pot art

Watering ourselves, after watering the garden of course!

Watering ourselves, after watering the garden of course!

Sunflower fun, and felted beads and balls

Sunflower fun, and felted beads and balls

Fifth Fence Farm's newest flock

Fifth Fence Farm’s newest flock

Rainbow potato harvest

Rainbow potato harvest

Kale chips and home fries... mmmmm

Kale chips and home fries… mmmmm

Garden journaling

Garden journaling

Camp photo.  See you next year!

Camp photo. See you next year!

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Pickle Mania

In the midst of my August pickling fervor, I took a moment to fondly look back at my first post about naturally fermenting veggies.  It’s hard to believe it was only a year and a half ago.  Now, pickle jars line our counters and the doors and shelves of the fridge (yes – the photos below accurately illustrate our current fridge situation.  It’s gotten a little bit out of hand.  Luckily for those who want to chill food that is not pickled, we have two fridges).  Though each member of our household has varying degrees of enthusiasm for fermentation, each person can tell you their favorite kind of pickle and how to make it.  The best thing about making pickles?  It’s easy!

Kimchi, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Dill Pickles, and Pickled Hot Peppers.

Half gallons of Kimchi, Kombucha, Red Cabbage Sauerkraut, Dill Pickles, and Pickled Hot Peppers.

Fermented Salsa, Kimchi, Pickled Carrots, Pickled Kohlrabi, and Cucumber Pickles.

Fermented Salsa, Kimchi, Pickled Carrots, Pickled Kohlrabi, and Cucumber Pickles.

Naturally Soured Zucchini Relish, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Old Brine, Pickled Fiddleheads, and Spicy Turnip Pickles.

Naturally Soured Zucchini Relish, Pickled Garlic Scapes, Old Brine, Pickled Fiddleheads, and Spicy Turnip Pickles.

If you’re new to fermentation, make sure to take a moment to read my original “Fermenting Foods” post – I wrote it as a newbie to the process and include some more detail and background information.   Below, find quick steps for getting started – you’ll notice everything is quite flexible and open to experimentation!

Natural Fermentation Pickles:  Good for your digestion, delicious, and fun to make!

  1. Pack a wide mouth canning jar with sliced veggies.  I love using carrots, cucumbers, kohlrabi, radishes, or green beans.
  2. For each quart of packed veggies, add either 1 tablespoon salt or 1 teaspoon salt + 1/4 cup brine or whey.  Brine is the liquid you get from a previous batch of naturally fermented pickles.  Whey is the liquid you get from straining plain yogurt.  Adding these liquids guarantees the introduction of lactobacillus – the kind of bacteria you want growing in your jar.  It also means you need less salt to ensure correct preservation.
  3. Pack everything down even more.  After a few hours, the salt will bring water out of your veggies.  Some have enough water to cover themselves in liquid.  If not, fill your jar the rest of the way up with water.
  4. Leave jar in a bowl in case liquid over flows.  Make sure it’s in a place where you can keep an eye on it!
  5. Push everything down each day, allowing air to be released and ensuring that all ingredients are in an anaerobic (covered in liquid) environment.
  6. Taste daily.  When your pickles have soured to the flavor you’d like, put them in the fridge.  Depending on the temperature in your house, this can take 3-10 days.  Putting your pickles in the fridge or cold storage slows the souring process waaaaay down – they can last for a long time.  We’ve eaten some that are over a year old!
  7. If you get some white filmy mold on top, don’t worry.  You can scrape it off – it won’t hurt you.  This only happens to me when I make pickles during the really hot and humid months of the summer.
Steps along the way: fermenting kohlrabi and cucumber pickles.

Steps along the way: fermenting kohlrabi and cucumber pickles.  They’re now in our fridge, ready to enjoy.

Quick Vinegar Refrigerator Pickles:  If you’re hesitant to eat “alive” foods, but want to enjoy pickles from your garden harvest, try this quick easy method.

  1. Heat 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and whichever of the following ingredients you’d like:  sugar (try 2 teaspoons), mustard seed (1 teaspoon), pickling spices (1 teaspoon) and/or garlic (1 clove cracked).  Simmer until salt and/or sugar dissolves.
  2. Pack a canning jar (or any glass jar with a tightly fitting lid) with sliced cucumbers, green beans, or other veggies.  Include some fronds of dill or a bay leaf if you’d like.
  3. Pour your hot brine over your packed veggies.  Make sure it covers them up completely.
  4. Cool and allow to sit for at least a day in the fridge.  They’ll get more flavor the longer they sit.  Because they’re in the fridge, you don’t need to worry about all of the steps and precautions of traditional canning.

Fermenting hot sauces and salsas: Read more here – we’re still enjoying some of last year’s spicy concoctions!

Happy Pickling!

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‘Tis The Season…

…when extra large industrial bowls are no longer big enough

harvest-counter

…when I find forgotten husk cherries in my pocket

husk-cherries

…when bubbling pickle jars start building up on the counter

pickling-counter

…when I’m glad we (Dad) did some trellising earlier this summer

squash-trellis

…when the chickens enjoy a never ending buffet of greens

chicken-yard

…when “just going up to get a cucumber” turns into a day of harvesting and food processing

harvest-tableHappy Gardening!

 

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School Gardens in the Summer

Do kids still need or want to be involved in school gardens in communities rich in beautiful natural spaces?  Yes!

Do kids still need or want to be involved in school gardens in communities rich in local food & natural spaces? Yes!

School gardens are great.  They deepen connections between students and their food.  They’re full of real life science, art, math, culture, and writing opportunities.  And of course, they get us outside to do real work and hands-on learning.  But in a place like Vermont, they can be only be started at the very end of the school year, they thrive and flourish during summer vacation, and then the first frost comes soon after the new school year starts.  Many families even have plenty of space to garden at home.  Is it worth it?  What do you do in the summer?

Yes, it’s worth it!  Here are some suggestions for the summer:

Green Thumbs School Garden Camp

Green Thumbs School Garden Campers

-Summer Programming: I’m running two weeks of Green Thumbs School Garden Camp in my town’s school gardens.  The late June and early August sessions, which include numerous opportunities for major kid-powered garden work, are spaced evenly through the summer so the only summer-long weekly task is watering.  Campers have had a blast (read more about our first week by following this link)!  Gardening can actually be quite fun if it’s a choice not a chore, if you’re with your friends, if there’s water and mud play involved, and if you get to eat delicious snacks created from things you grew and picked.

-Tips for Gardening with Kids: Read this past post for some tips for adults working with children in gardens.

-Watering: This is a great way to engage families.  Have individuals or families sign up for a week of watering.  If weather is hot or dry, they are responsible for watering the garden that week.  This spreads the burden out, allows garden coordinators to travel and enjoy their summer, prompts students and their parents visit the garden in the summer, and helps grow the community of support around the garden without anyone getting over burdened.

Many hands make light work when it comes for food preservation!

Many hands make light work when it comes for food preservation!

-Summer Harvest: Summer harvest parties can pick and process food, freezing or canning it for the school year.  Make sure to coordinate with your food service director if you take this route!  Harvest can also be eaten by families who help water and by summer campers.  If you have a food shelf in your community, consider donating the school’s summer produce so that all community members can enjoy local fresh veggies.  If you have a local farmer’s market, engage middle or high school students in selling the produce.  Managing the table requires the mastery of all sorts of mathematical, economic, agricultural, and social skills.  Funds raised can help support future garden projects or can pay students a stipend for the hours they worked.

Garden Maintenance: Yes, we really can do most of our garden maintenance with kids during two weeks of camp.  Admittedly, it does help to avoid being a perfectionist (which I highly recommend if you’re gardening with children!).  In preparation for next week’s camp, I did a site visit to see what needed to be done.  Hopefully the following photos and text can help you if you’re managing your own gardens.  Happy Gardening!

Cut old flower heads off of herbs and other perennials to stimulate new leaves to grow.

Cut old flower heads off of herbs and other perennials to stimulate new leaves to grow.

Build trellises for climbing plants.  What a great engineering challenge for campers!

Harvest peas and pull out old pea plants.  Build trellises for climbing plants. What a great engineering challenge for campers!

Harvest and dry garlic.  Make a mild pesto with garlic, kale and basil.

Harvest and dry garlic. Make a mild pesto with garlic, kale (in background) and basil.

Dead-head edible flowers to stimulate increased future production.  Harvest herbs and flowers for sun tea.

Dead-head edible flowers to stimulate increased future production. Harvest herbs and flowers for sun tea.

Uh oh, MAJOR engineering challenge!  Trellis and sucker tomato jungles.

Uh oh, MAJOR engineering challenge! Trellis and sucker tomato jungle.

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