Monday, August 16, 2010


Froze some peas and thought how I wish I could use glass instead of plastic bags. But there just isn't enough room in our freezers for the added space they take up and not enough jars for canning and freezing too. It is part of a problem where our countryside does not produce food voluntarily, unless your a bison or a beef and eat grass. So that means I buy berries in bulk and anything else I might want to use for the next year. if I chance to be somewhere and I can purchase a need - I do, enough to last me for a while. That means my freezer has corn meal and rice from the Good Foods grocery store I visited while in Fort Collins during the kid's photo shoot. That is our nearest organic groceries and it is four hours away. That puts a burden on our freezers to carry meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains. There is no eat locally except meat and they have a farmer's market but it is a 80 mile trip to attend. Then when you get there, the selection is narrow since our country naturally produces a little hay and nothing more.

Right now, my garden isn't producing well between the weather and the imbalanced soil but it is producing and next year it should produce a bumper crop is the weather cooperates. That means since some of the crops were done, I put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and since there was a few cool days this past weekend, (70's) I kept the canner going all day. In went a second batch of beets. The grandkids don't like them so I canned in pints.
And, I canned four batches of chickens in their broth. Note the pretty rich yellow color. I've found that if I cook my chicken in the crock pot or the oven, I get a much richer color and a stronger flavor of chicken when I add it to the pot on the stove for making chicken noodle soup. That is where the twenty somewhat scrawny chickens went - into jars for chicken noodle soup this winter. I skinned 6 to eight a day for three days. As the temperatures had been hot, my crockpot was going night and day, rotating out the chicken pieces. Then into the fridge they went into jars in anticipation of the cool weather that was to hit this past weekend.
I made an important discovery while working on this project. If I cook the two year old hens in the crockpot for a long period, over night for example, then the meat comes out tender. Waste not want not they say and I've a few more two year old hens that will find there way into the pot. Not that they won't lay well next year but I've a few replacement hens that need a home in the big coop. The ones that were an experiment in my quest to become more self-sufficient. What I've learned is that unless we could let our chickens roam free, allowing them to scrounge for much of their daily bread, we can't afford the feed to raise dual purpose chickens to a decent size to eat. Cornish crosses is the only way to go in our situation.
Oh I'd done this experiment before but this time I was trying a different feed, a much less expensive feed, but the result was the same.
Then there is the beans, just now coming on but slowly. I hope they aren't producing like wildfire while we are gone to San Antonio. Not sure how our daughter will keep up as it is with our chores and her busy schedule.
We are trying the Dragon's Tongue Wax bean this year. It is the purple and yellow bean and it originated in the Netherlands. Yes, I'm trying lots of nothern type vegetables like the Siberian tomato and the Glacier as our weather is shifting back to being colder again. I had planned to try letting some of my beans go to seed but with the Farmer's Almanac calling for snow by the tenth of September, I'll be lucky to just get beans to can if they are right.
The Dragon's Tongue Wax bean caught my eye in the catalogue because it is dual purpose. You can eat it as a wax bean and as a dried bean like Navy. Have any of you tried it?
While I'm talking about beans, does anyone have a trick for keeping your beans more crisp in the canning jar. I'd like a firmer texture in mine. I do have a trick for corn that makes freezer corn taste like you just cut it off the cob but I'll share that later when, I pray, IF we get corn before snowfall. The cobs have quite a ways to go yet. The heat forcasted for this week will help but will dry the garden out while we are gone. Too bad this was the year I planned on letting some corn dry on the cob in the garden and try grinding it for meal. I'd read where you could use sweet corn for corn meal. Sounded yummy to me and with limited space, I'm looking for some dual ways to use my vegetables.
Have you any other tips for me on dual purpose plants for up North where the gardening season is short, this year, really short? I've a feeling we will need to produce all we can in the more difficult days that will come. Can't spend like our government has going deep into the red and not have concequences that impacts us all.

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