Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wood Now for Use Next Season

Splitter foreground, buzz saw behind splitter
It is a magic time of year.  Most nights it freezes and many days it thaws.  It is a good time to spend mornings - when it is still frozen and the ground harder - to cut and stack wood for next season.  Last year we thought we had enough wood ready for two seasons, but this was a winter of many cool nights and cloudy days, so we had less solar gain.  We burned more wood.  And I cooked more and more meals on the cook stove.

Wood from fall on right and today's wood on left
Last fall our friend Sean came to visit.  He works inside and requested he help us with outside work.  He and Ken put up cook stove wood to fill our overflow space. 

Now we are working to fill the two main bays (as Ken calls them) with 16" wood for the cook stove.

More than one rick done today

Today Sam and Miranda Helped us split some wood cut last fall.  Thank you!

Next we will buzz up some smaller diameter wood.

Corn Masa - New Variety

Last season a friend gave us some seed to try a new variety of corn to dry for making masa.  Masa is dried corn that has been boiled with lime (like pickling lime, not the green fruit) and ground.  this process makes more nutrition available and the corn is more digestible.

Here is some of the variety we grew.  It looks very black, but is blue.  I have boiled it and let it cool.  

This is the grinder.  Low tech!

Then I use a tortilla press to make balls of masa into tortillas.

Then I place the tortillas on a griddle and 

I place them on a clean towel in our tortilla casserole (pottery locally made).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Transplanting in the Mobile High Tunnel - Snow outside, Warm inside

Although there is still plenty of snow outside, temperatures have finally warmed up inside the mobile high tunnel.  

With all the night time temperatures in single digits, the first transplanting and planting is about one month or more later than last year.

Ken planted some seeds a couple days ago.  and yesterday he began to transplant some greens.  He pulls trays of transplants down in a sled.  and he pulls containers of water down to the greenhouse by sled.

He removes the fiber that was in place to keep soil warm

He then prepares soil.  

He then places plants.  He kneels on a towel to keep his knees dry and warm.

Now we need some sunlight and heat

Weaving Progress

Many people are complaining about the weather.  For Ken transplanting in greenhouses is about a month later than last year.  We have not dug the parsnips yet.  But we are content.  I have been processing rags for weaving.  

After removing buttons and zippers and seams, I cut the pieces into strips.

Then I sew the strips end to end and roll those into balls.

So far I have woven three rugs - here is a view of the cloth beam with the rugs that are woven.  Once I take these off the loom I will finish the ends of the rugs 

Here is the spacing for the fringe on the first end of the next rug.  

I am planning to continue to use blue denim - I have a lot - and try some over dyed denim I dyed after I took a class in January.

Goose Egg Season is Here!

The geese have begun laying eggs.  Goose eggs are only available in spring.  

Goose eggs are larger than chicken eggs - I figure one goose egg is about like three chicken eggs.

Goose eggs have two advantages over chicken eggs - large rich yolks and large whites that can be beaten for great lift.  They are particularly good in creamy uses like custard or puddings and for a fluffy light, airy and rich flavored omelettes or sponge cake.

We sell goose eggs as they are available usually now through May or June.

Micro Greens

In winter we grow sprouts, shoots. mini and micro greens.During those months.  These small greens are  a nutritional power house.  we have read that sprouting and growing to micro multiplies the nutritional value any where from four to forty times the value of eating  full sized greens. 

The reason we grow sprouts, shoots and micro greens inside during winter is simple.  Daylight is too short, temperatures are too cold in our fields and greenhouses to grow greens.

 The disadvantages to growing micro greens are numerous: seed cost is high - imagine what four lettuce seeds create in sprouts, micro greens and then full size heads.  Labor is also high - trimming a flat of micro greens, rinsing, sorting and bagging requires much more time than rinsing one head of lettuce that will more than fill the same bag.

So, why do we do this?  We are committed to growing food year around to our CSA and on line customers.  We want to eat fresh, nutritional greens in winter.  Our goal is to provide maximum nutrition and flavor year around - we want to offer a local, small foot print food alternative.

Once we can move outside and maximize seed and space use we do - Ken will be planting and transplanting in greenhouses once soil temperatures reach 45 degrees.

In the meantime, we will grow these smaller greens - Ways to  use these greens: try raw in salads or as garnish for any of your favorite foods.  Eat promptly for optimum nutrition.  And Enjoy!


The snow load has been heavy this winter.  One night we got home from a class and I saw shiny stuff on the rug.

Then I looked up. I realized we had lost one of the panes in the multi pane skylight.

Here is a photo of some of the glass under the storm window.
Got out the broom and vacuum cleaner and felt grateful the other panes(s) held.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Local Food for my Birthday

After the souffle for breakfast, what should I cook for midday on my birthday?  local food, of course!  For a treat I chose something we did not raise - lamb from our friends Evan and Sarah with some of our chopped parsley.  Most of the meal was sourced here - our potatoes, our vegetables,

and our salad greens. What a treat!  Thank you all involved...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thoughts on Growing Older

A surprise gift - my Mrs Tishel look
Today is my birthday.  And I am grateful.  I have passed the age where I bury those older than I am - grandparents, aunts, friends' parents.  I have begun to see my friends and contemporaries go.  I have also been to the funerals of children and young people.  The theory of death has moved from arm's length and old people to the passing of anyone anytime. 

Wow! one of the few photos of BOTH of us
Rather than seeing this as depressing, it has made life more real, visceral, and valuable.  When I do not know how much time I have left in this life, I realize how precious it is, how fortunate I am.  I hope it makes me appreciate all those people in my life - in the past or now or in some future time.  
What DOES one say when they grow like this?

Celebration is in order- we are here, together; let us laugh and enjoy each other.

I return to something a friend told me years ago - "You Americans expect presents for being here.  We Chinese thank our parents for being here." 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Birthday Breakfast

Each year if and when Ken asks what I want for my birthday, the answer is simple - a souffle.  It is egg season, and Ken is a good cook, and right now he still has some time to cook.

And so he made me a souffle for breakfast.  It was delicious.  Thank you, Ken


Ken brought something home from my friends Mary Kay and Roger.

It was a natural dyed scarf.  With a tag to explain the dyes used.  I thought of Minnie Pearl from the Grand Ol' Opry.   She wore hats with the price tag hanging down on stage

The scarf is a beautiful warm color.  

I love it; thank you

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  this box has salad mix, cabbage, onions, shallots, garlic, potatoes, beets carrots, rutabaga, and Shogoin radish.

Field Notes.  spring is coming!  Monday we had daytime temperatures in the fifties.  Monday night it did not freeze.  The snow is coming off the greenhouses and the air and soil temperature is warming.  Ken monitors and soon the soil will be warm enough for seeds and transplants.

Ken has been planting crops that will be transplanted once the soil appears and warms - onions for one.  Onions depend on length of day and they are one of the crops Ken plants first each season.  

Although they may not look like much, these trays are Walla Walla , storage, and red onions and leeks.

Ken has also been planting greens for harvest as micro greens.  We do micro greens in winter for a couple reasons.  First they are a nutritional power house, and second that is what we can do in our window space during winter.  so when days are short and things grow slowly we harvest each month.  During prime greens season, we can grow a head of lettuce in about eight weeks.  This is a more efficient use of seed, space and time.

From the Kitchen.  Here we are in spring - it is egg season!  As the days lengthen, hens we have fed all winter start laying eggs.  And so we use eggs in creative ways:  

Since we have had squash for a long season already, I will cook up squash and mix with a beaten egg and cook in some butter in a skillet - it puffs up and seals in herbs or spices.  Today I used curry.  I also top with chopped toasted nuts.  Or cook atop sauteed onions.

I also make squash soup with spicy sausage and crushed red pepper.

The Shogoin radish is very similar to a daikon - a little more bulbous and a little sweeter.  I often grate them and use them in salad and they are also good in soup.  Enjoy them raw or cooked.

It is also a great time for hash browns using potatoes and rutabagas.  I also do "American fries by peeling cubing and precooking potatoes and rutabagas and then frying them up with a chopped onion.  Delicious!

This box ends our 2013 - 2014 season.  In response to requests for more winter harvests we will add one harvest per month in January, February and March 2015.  Sign up soon to avoid a gap in great vegetables! Thanks and until April,