Our new food strainer

juicer_croppedNo more peeling and seeding tomatoes for canning and sauces, thanks to our brand new Victorio food strainer!

We bought this mainly to save LOTS of time in processing the bumper crop of tomatoes this year, but have found that it does a really good job on removing the seeds from blackberries. We also got the extra different sized strainers, and are looking forward to making salsa, and canning some of that.

Intensive gardening… no room for weeds.

IntensiveGardening_croppedOur version of intensive gardening. We’ve got a nice little microclimate on the south side of the house with lots of sun, so we crammed it with tomatoes, green peppers, chili peppers, okra, eggplant, calendula, borage, marigold, pumpkin, and artichoke. There’s a permanent sprinkler that’s turned on for a while ever morning to keep things green and growing, and it gets fertilized every two weeks.

It’s zucchini season

ZucchiniBread_croppedIt only takes two zucchini plants to make a LOT of zucchinis. The first few small ones (before they develop seeds) go into salads or get pickled. Then comes grilling, and mixing with whatever we can think of. But our all time favorite is zucchini bread, best made with chocolate chips, and eaten with morning coffee. When we’ve finally had our fill, and given away as many as we can, we dehydrate the rest to add to winter soups and stews.

Our favorite zucchini bread recipe (thanks to simplebites.net)
Ingredients

Dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon (or 1 Tablespoon pre-ground)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil (or peanut)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk (or regular milk with a splash of vinegar)
1 cup organic Turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, firmly packed)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups finely grated zucchini
4 oz dark chocolate, chunked

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil a 9×4 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with papers OR oil a mini loaf pan.
2. In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Combine well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped chocolate.
4. Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
5. Spoon batter into 6 muffin cups (or mini loaf pan) and pour the rest into the 9×4 loaf pan. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan. Loosen the sides and remove from pan. Cool loaf completely before cutting.

Coffee Soap

coffeeSoap2_croppedToday we decided to try a batch of coffee soap. We used a kit from Soap Making Resources , where we buy all of our supplies. In addition to coffee, it has several different essential oils in it, which made the house smell fabulous during the process. Now we just have to wait a month or so, to let the bars age, but after that we’ll be able to drink coffee and shower with it at the same time.

Plant mister

MistSystem_croppedThis may be the greatest way yet to create free plants. In case it’s hard to make out, it’s two raised beds filled with sand and watered with a misting system that’s set to spray for 10 seconds every ten minutes. Many of the cuttings from our prunings just get stuck in the beds, and with no care at all we get new plants. Of course, some work better than others, and some not at all, but for each one that does we’re making from $5.00 to $25.00.