Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Everlasting Elderberry - Part 2

Many more elderberries to process and two very large apothecary roses loaded with hips helped to create this 1/2 gallon of  Elderberry Winter Elixir I put up yesterday afternoon. The measurements are approximate and listed in parts instead of cups.
3 parts elderberries
2 parts fresh rosehips (seeded and chopped)
1 part dried elder flowers
1/2 part fresh ginger root (chopped)
1/2 part sumac berries (optional)
1/4 part cinnamon chips
1/4 part fresh organic orange zest

I put the elderberries and rosehips in the bottom of the jar and covered with about a pint of our happy bee colony's raw honey (lovingly tended by Trey up at Two Gander Farm) and gave it a good smushing. Then I layered the ginger, sumac berries, elderflowers, cinnamon and orange peel and covered the whole lot with brandy. I'll let it steep a good 4-6 weeks before I strain it.
We'll use it along with echinacea tincture to help prevent the dreaded cold and flu viruses that we've been told are going to be especially bad this year.

As you can see, there many more hips to pick. Best to let them get touched by frost to enhance the flavor, but these are quite tart and tasty now, so I will continue to take my share before the birds and days of rain deplete the pickin's. The rose hips and sumac berries are loaded with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C ). The elderberries and elderflowers are nicely antiviral, and the ginger and cinnamon were added to create some warmth and get the circulation moving
It's important to get those seeds out. They are surrounded by irritating little hairs that are annoying on your finger tips, but even more annoying to your throat and gut if you ingest them.
Another opportunistic meditation time processing these little jewels.the final chop

Everlasting Elderberry - Part 1

Our elders have gifted us with a huge abundance of berries this year. Thanks to the MAN and the many helping hands of the women in my classes, I have been able to keep up with the task of separating the berries from the stems. I believe I still have enough on the bushes for one more manageable harvest. Those will probably go into the freezer unless another lightbulb appears over my head.
...Picking and Plucking...
...It's a meditation...

Many thanks to Tina from Essential Herbal for the inspiration for this recipe. I wouldn't be me if I didn't tweak it a little bit. hehheh. We tried to incorporate some of the MAN's concord grapes into this recipe, but the seeding process proved to be just too much...We changed the plan after about 1/2 cup. They are in there, but won't be included in the future! I also tripled this recipe. Sensational!

Elderberry- Peach Chutney
1 one medium onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
3 t olive oil
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 c white wine vinegar
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t cardamom
1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg

3 c sliced peaches
1 c elderberries
1 TB chopped lemongrass
1 c chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large heavy skillet or frying pan, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil slowly over low heat. Add the salt, vinegar, sugar and spices, and continue cooking until all are well blended. Add the fruits and nuts. Cook over low heat for 12-15 minutes, until the fruit is just starting to release juice. Don’t let it get mushy. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight before using to allow the flavors to mingle. It keeps for months if stored in a covered container and refrigerated.((Side note: We felt that this chutney recipe produced an abundance of juice. Too much to be called a chutney. At the risk of cooking it down more and losing the nice texture of the peaches, we opted to strain the spiced fruit juices and add some fine brandy to it. Oh yeah. An unexpected but very welcomed Spiced Elderberry Peach Cordial was created ! A perfect graduation day feast addition, don'tcha think?))Oh, there's so much more to share. More recipes and more inspiration. And I'm sure I feel an elderberry giveaway coming. Check back soon for Everlasting Elderberry - Part 2. The harvest continues.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just a Few More BLT's , Please....

We are celebrating a lovely heirloom tomato harvest here on the farm...this was the quick pick before Ike came roaring through. Made another large batch of oven roasted sauce and homemade pizzas. Yumm
German Strawberry

Two Pound Brandywine

The cherry tomato assortment...can't get enough of these sweeties

Monday, September 15, 2008

What on earth IS that???

I have lived and played on this soil for many years, but I have never come across a creature such as this. It is eating (along with 7 or 8 of his siblings) a plant that I have never grown here before, however: A castor bean plant. Can anyone identify this fella?
UPDATE from Wikipedia: "These saddleback caterpillars have a pair of fleshy "horns" at either end, and these, like much of the body, bear urticating hairs that secrete an irritating venom. Stings can be very painful. They can cause swelling, nausea, and leave a rash that can last for days. Individuals with sensitive skin are cautioned against coming into contact with them as the reaction can be more severe than the typical reaction." Yikes....

David Winston returns to the Farm

Funny thing about herb walks with herbalist, David Winston...he goes wherever the plants call to him. And they happened to call him ( and 25 people who hung on his every word) directly away from my yard and gardens to the edge of the pasture and the compost pile!!! I know there is a great variety of wild things growing there to speak of but in 90 degree heat, the compost pile was not where I would have entertained a crowd. He eventually meandered back into the garden to talk about cultivated herbs, but by that time it was the smells of our lunch that was calling to everyone!
David loves to be surrounded by herbs and useful weeds. He found them all here in my garden.
Sharing the herb garden with others...I love when that happens.I have the best job.
Look at that spread, will ya? With many helping hands this weekend, a fab lunch was prepared for all to enjoy.Grilled curried salmon, elderberry chutney, oven roasted potatoes, warm quinoa salad, baby green beans with shiitakes and edamame, locally baked sourdough breads with herb butter and an heirloom tomato and corn salad served over fresh greens.
fine dining on the porch
ahhh, don't forget dessert.

The herb kitchen transformed into packed classroom and screening room to hear David speak about a very pertinent issue here in PA: "Treating Lyme Disease with Orthodox and Complimentary Therapies"Many, many thanks to my kitchen helpers! It wouldn't have been the great day it was without you Hilda, Tara and Carol. Also, can't forget the MAN who did all the MAN-ly grunt work outside, kept the chickens at bay, parked cars and pulled a forgotten slide projector out of his...umm, hat at the last moment. whew! Great herbalist with great slides and no projector would have been a HUGE farm faux' pau.

Laying Low

With three big classes in the last week and a stack of orders to fill, the dirt and dust has been flying around this farm recently. I'll be looking forward to laying low this week.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hannah and the Moonflowers

I have been growing moonflowers for longer than I can remember. And for as long as I can remember they have been rather disappointing in their show... until now. It's 9:45 pm and the MAN and I were outside enjoying the last of the evening before the winds and rains blow in for the next 24 hours with Hannah. After a little walk around I found these beauties lighting up the garden in the dark! WOW! We counted them in the dark but I believe there are 14 or 15 blooming all at once and each one is larger than my open hand. Oh, I am just thrilled they bloomed before the rains came, but they'll be gone by morning. They only last one night, regardless of the weather.The scent of so many at once is indescribable. I would bottle it and wear it if I could...sigh, goodnight.The window to my bedroom is directly above and I'm hitting the hay. Maybe I can smell them from my pillow.off with the flash... another wow.
simply moonstruck

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

His Patience and Finesse Pay Off

Holy Concord Grapes, BatMAN... after tapping my impatient foot waiting ( ahem, we're talkin' years here) while the MAN perfected his pruning and vine training techniques, we are officially overrun with the fragrant globes! What to do with them now that I have 'em, is the question of the day. I beg you not to answer with jelly...there's got to be something else besides jelly....off to Google concord grape recipes.**Alas, a veritable sea of grape jelly and jam recipes flood the internet. However, a ray of epicurean hope was discovered in this NY Times article!! Can you say concord grape chutney with nuts, lemongrass and ginger? I'm there. Now, I just need to buy some time to experiment. Not sure where I can find that costly ingredient...

the Pantry Pickin' Continues...

From the freezer:
Wild caught Yellow Fin Tuna Steaks
Pantry and fridge staples:
eggs (hard boiled)
dijon mustard
salt and pepper
sourdough bread
Garden Fresh:
green beans
fresh thyme, garlic chives, oregano and basil
oak leaf lettuce
english cucumber
Season tuna steaks with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped herbs, salt and pepper and grill on a bed of flowering oregano. While fish is grilling, make a basic vinaigrette dressing of 3/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice and a tablespoon of dijon mustard
Then build a Nicoise Salad starting with a bed of the lettuce, topping with hard boiled eggs, quartered tomatoes, sliced cuke, blanched green beans, olives, minced onion and a final sprinkle with capers. Grilled tuna goes in the center. Drizzle liberally with the lemony vinaigrette, more chopped herbs, salt and pepper. I was missing the classic French addition of small new potatoes in my pantry...but instead added a few cubes of my favorite locally made sourdough bread to sop up the vinaigrette. oh my, we were very happy and satisfied with this meal! I could easily eat it every night... Maybe substituting with grilled chicken next time. The MAN is very content to be the recipient of my self-induced pantry pickin' blog challenge. Even patiently waiting for photo finishing before diving in. There was plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow although I haven't tired of tomato sandwiches, yet.Happy to report: still no run to the 'store for more'...but I must admit to the purchase of a new loaf of the bread today. However, I bought it at the CSA farm shed, not at the store.
I love loopholes...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Farm Fresh Pickup

WooHoo! My Vegetable Pantry is Refreshed!
Today's CSA's Farm Share included:
15 Italian Frying Peppers
8 Tomatoes
4 red beets
2 Zuchinni
2 Summer Squash
2 Heads of Oak Leaf Lettuce
Bunch of Endive
Bunch of Rainbow Swiss Chard
English Cucumber
Bulb of Garlic
Bunches ofParsley

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Pantry Pickin'

When the Iceman took his appetite to New Hampshire, it occurred to me that I was more free to make do with what I had in the pantry instead of running to the store for more food. I am beginning to love that freedom. I am challenging myself to resist the easy trip, and get creative with what I already have. Let's see how long I last. My CSA farm pickup is on Tuesday, so I'll have some new ingredients to play with. Tonight, however, the MAN brought me a shirt load full of mixed heirloom tomatoes from the garden. Challenge on...
Can't forget the fresh mixed herbs either. While I'm outside I'll grab a few large handfuls of basil, of course, and a nice handful of garlic chives and a half a handful of fresh oregano and take it all inside. My pantry pickins would then include extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, freshly grated Parmigiano cheese, diced onion, a few cloves of garlic and my favorite capellini pasta. This can be thrown together in a matter of minutes...
Fresh Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce
In an open roast pan toss together:
a dozen mixed tomatoes (leaving skin on), diced
a variety of shredded fresh herbs...LOTS!
a small onion, diced
a few cloves of garlic, minced
Drizzle generously with olive oil
Season with salt and pepper, and maybe some red pepper flakes
Give a final stir and place in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes break down a bit and the herbs are extremely fragrant. Bring out of the oven and spoon onto any hot pasta. Shovel fresh grated cheese on top and drizzle with just a little more olive oil.
Dig in.Dang, there is nothin' better.You can't get anything this good in a swanky Italian bistro and guaranteed... no leftovers... for Sweet Roe in the Bronx ;)

Elderberry Jubulation & Education

Have had two harvests of elderberries and two batches of elderberry syrup. We were fortunate that the timing of it coincided with the Homestead Herbalism class so there were quite a few hands to help to strip them from the stems. That tedious job is so much more fun to do with a group of laughing women! See some of the finished bottles below. Hey, did someone sneak a slurp from the bottle on the left??? Looks a might low!

Elderberry Syrup

Simmer one gallon of fully ripened black elderberries ( stripped from the stems) with ½ cup water in a large pot until softened. Strain the berries through a cloth, saving the juice and squeezing the cloth for more! Add ½ oz. grated fresh ginger root and 1 heaping teaspoon of whole cloves to the juice and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, add 1 cup of dry elder flowers to the hot juice and put the lid on. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain out the herbs, measure the juice and add an equal measure of honey. One part honey to one part juice. Reheat slightly and blend well. At this point, I add a few good ‘glugs’ of brandy to insure a good preservation. Pour into sterilized quart jars and refrigerate. Also freezes well.Yummmy!!

Just for the record, I added this picture here because I am questioned about this sooo often, it scares me. These are not elderberries...they are poke berries. Not edible, not useful...not safe. Leave them to the birds. Somehow, someway they are able to be ingested by the birds who will promptly return them to the earth via the windshield of your car, the windows of your house and your laundry hanging on the wash line. Or if you are extremely lucky, the shoulder of that beautiful white blouse you love....All joking aside, poke berries are poisonous. Please don't confuse them with elderberries. 'Nuff said.


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