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Friday, July 29, 2011

Tomatoes

Today I took off about 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes from my plants and cut them in quarters, put them in a black pot and put it in the solar cooker to "process them".  About 8 hours later they were very soft.  I blended them, strained them, and then put the pint in the fridge for me to use as a tomato sauce in an upcoming meal within this next few days!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gardening Summer 2011

So there are only a few things working right in my garden this year.

Both cucumbers are doing great, we get several off of them weekly.  The zucchini is also doing very well, and we get at least 4 a week.  The cantalopes are doing WONDERFUL.

The tomatoes however, are very disappointing, even with now frequent feedings.  One plant, with a missing name tag (my fault I didn't write it down this year) is doing fantastic, with great tomatoes, although small, that are turning red every day.  There is also a pear shaped cherry tomato that is doing very well, and a serrano that is doing good, but all other tomato plants are very blah.  I do have another tomato plant that is doing great, but so far no red tomatoes, and it's almost August for heaven's sake.

There are several of them that I haven't gotten a single tomato off, and one or two that gave me one or two tomatoes.  It's just sad and I don't know what's wrong.  My bell peppers are very very slowly starting to produce little buds/peppers.  My cabbage is doing very well, but they are being eaten alive this year and there are some that are also very overcrowded but gave up on them.  The peas are gone, but didn't produce all that great. 

So so far the cantelopes, cucumber, zucchini are the plants doing well.

I will carefully record all the plant names before tearing everything out (when that time comes) to make sure I record which plant did well under what conditions.  I know we had a lousy beginning this year with the late rain, but this is the second year in a row I'm not producing what I need. 

Next year: fresh compost for all three boxes.  Next year: A row of tomato plants, at least 15, of heirlooms that performed well this year and last (not that many), a row of green beans (this year they are dismal to say the least.  A strong healthy plant but only 1 or two green beans a week!!!), Next year: one zucchini, three pickle cucumbers, and several melons planted a few weeks apart.  Several cabbage protected properly.

All in all, there is still so much to learn in gardening that I worry about people who haven't gardened, STILL.  It takes time, effort, the right tools, fertilzers, good soil, etc., to grow a successful garden.  The first several years I planted all the plants did well because the summer came early and the weather was obliging.  But when the weather is strange, the garden doesn't produce well for us.  Plus we are getting more shade in our garden than is good for the plants.

It is my hope that by the end of September we will have harvested many more tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and perhaps a cabbage or two.

Oh and the artichoke plant "came back" but as of today it still hasn't produced anything.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taro Leaves and Roots

Today I am dehydrating taro root and leaves.  First I have peeled then sliced the taro root into 1/4 inch slices, then gently boiled them.  As you can see from the photo, I didn't do a very good job of keeping them intact, but they are now dehydrating so they should be okay (although I'm not sure how they will taste or work in recipes later).  The leaves have been boiled for almost an hour (50 minutes) to make sure the "itchy" toxin is gone (I hope), and they are also now dehydrating.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Canning Chicken

Just a reminder that although you can place raw chicken in a canning jar and pressure can it, you must put in the liquid too!  Don't try to put raw chicken in and leave it at that, no matter how well it seems to work.

I contacted Jarden foods (they own the mason jar companies, Food Saver, and more) and they said:

Stuffing the chicken into the jar without hot liquid is not recommended. Liquid is a heat conductor and in order to safely can the chicken, the hot liquid should be ladled over the meat.  -Jarden Home Brands

Also USDA concurs:
 
Please don't take risks.  Remember that the most important thing in canning your foods is NOT that it seals!!! It will seal almost automatically and has nothing to do with how safe it is or how much bacteria has been killed.
 
Use recipes from approved sources.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Food Production and Storage

WE HAVE BEEN COUNSELED TO PARTICIPATE IN HOME FOOD PRODUCTION AND STORAGE.


From the Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball:

“The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies a year’s supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days.

“We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. Study the best methods of providing your own foods… If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities.

“I hope that we understand that, while having a garden … is often useful in reducing food costs and making available delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, it does much more than this. Who can gauge the value of that special chat between daughter and Dad as they weed or water the garden? How do we evaluate the good that comes from the obvious lessons of planting, cultivating, and the eternal law of the harvest? And how do we measure the family togetherness and cooperating that must accompany successful canning?

“…we would do well to listen to what we have been told and to follow it explicitly.”
FOOD ALLERGIES AND FOOD STORAGE
How do you collect food storage when a member of your family has food allergies?
You must figure out what they can eat and preserve it and store it.

Buy alternate food items like oats, spelt and rice. Make sure that foods that cause an undesirable reaction are replaced with safe foods. Grow a garden. Decide how you will provide bread, if desired, using the ingredients that are tolerated. Acquire what you need for them as soon as possible.
You can do this, and your family depends upon you to do it.

GLUTEN FREE SITES

http://www.ldsliving.com/story/64382-gluten-free-food-storage.

And also, did you know that Campbell Soups has a whole gluten free line? http://www.campbellsoupcompany.com/faq.aspx?section=glutenfree

Since our Father in Heaven asks that we make every effort to accumulate enough food supply for our family, where do we store it?

First of all, you want a place that is low in humidity (as much as possible) and cool, which leaves out the garage! All dry pack canning items can be stored in their sturdy white boxes and stacked six high in most closets. That’s roughly 180 pounds of something to feed your family that has a footprint of only 13 x 18 inches!
Check out your closets: Determine what clothing or sports equipment or Christmas decorations can go elsewhere and save the cool and dark places for your food.
Under Beds: You can fit at least 3 “under bed” plastic storage containers under your beds! They’re great for pint size canning jars and 16 oz. canned foods like tomato sauce, beans, etc.

Behind furniture: You can store behind a couch that’s been pulled about 18 inches or less from a wall.
Make a Table: Put three boxes of canned wheat on top of each other with a pretty cloth and make a nice table out of it.
Cupboards: Check in your cupboards and storage cabinets throughout the house. Give away items you no longer use, and use the remaining space to store your dehydrated or canned foods!

Turkey

We solar cooked a turkey roast the other day and it was sooo great.  It's the boned whole turkey that you can buy, that we split in two and then baked in the solar oven. It would have baked just as well if not taken apart, but it fell apart when I took off the netting. Yum!