Grandma's Fabulous Garden

A while ago, I told you that I was going to be making a little garden using re-purposed items. And yesterday, I showed you some things I found at the thrift store for that garden. Yesterday I also went to the local gardening store and got a few plants to start off with. Our weather forecast for today is for thunderstorms, and I have something planned to do for tomorrow, so I will be putting these plants in the soil on Sunday. I am so excited to be getting started, even if I have to wait a couple more weeks to plant more stuff.

Can you believe those are geraniums?

Can you believe those are begonias?

Begonias, oh my word! can you believe how huge those blooms are?

Cosmos and Marigolds

Cosmos and Marigolds

I love Cosmos, and Fabgrandpa picked out the Marigolds. They are pretty together, right?

Sweet Peppers, Strawberries, and Onions

Sweet Peppers, Strawberries, Broccoli and Onions

You can’t really see the Strawberry plants because the onion sets are on top of them. There are also Sweet Peppers and Broccoli plants.  That is a good start I think.

When Someone Gives You Lemons…

When someone gives you lemons, do you scratch your head, put on your thinking cap, and try to figure out what the heck to do with ALL THOSE LEMONS! I had the chance to find out what I would do because Limoneira sent me a box of lemons.

The first thing I did was make a Lemon Cake, gluten free of course.

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

Gluten Free Lemon Cake

Next, I gave some to a friend, just because. (Because I had so many of them, that’s why!)

Look at all those lemons, and is with 12 of them gone  before I took this picture.

Look at all those lemons, and is with 12 of them gone before I took this picture.

I decided that I would grate all the rinds, and squeeze all the juice today, and freeze them, so that I would have it whenever I get ready to make lemon something else. So, after all that grating:

1 and a half cups of lemon zest!

1 and a half cups of lemon zest!

That’s a lot of lemon zest! and that means a lot of lemon chicken, lemon fish, and lemon whatever else I can think of to make with it.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice

Each one of the little things holds 2 ounces, and the jar holds 16 ounces, so how much lemon juice is that? Um, about 26 ounces of lemon juice. I’m freezing it all, and next time I want a lemon meringue pie, I can just get out what I need, and be half way done with it before I even begin!

And that’s not all! After I grated and squoze and froze the lemon juice and rind, I got a couple of the lemon rinds that were left over, and put them in a pot of water with some Chinese Five Spice Powder, and let it simmer all day to make my house smell soooo good! And I froze the rest of them, too, so I can use them all winter long.

Lemon Air Freshener

Lemon Air Freshener

So, what would YOU do if you had a truckload of lemons?

My First Attempt At Apple Butter

Honey Crisp Apples

Honey Crisp Apples

Yesterday, I told you about stopping to get some apples to make apple butter when we came home from our visit with the in-laws. Those apples look so good, don’t they?

My mother has been making apple butter for as long as I can remember, but I have never tried it. Since I did not have a recipe for it, I decided to google for one, and found several. The one I used is the one found at Pickyourown.org.

I read through the recipe to make sure I had all the ingredients I needed before I started. This is important to know, because even though I had all the ingredients on hand before I started, I soon found out that I did not have all the tools I needed. This proved to be a sore spot later on, as you will see.

Washed apples

Washed apples

To get started making apple butter, the first thing you do is wash the apples. Just use cold water to rinse them off and pick off any leaves still attached.  Next, cut them up. The recipe I used said that you did not have to remove the core and seeds, or peel the apples. It said that most of the pectin in the fruit is in the core and peels, so I did not do that. All I did was cut each apple into six to eight pieces and put them in a large stock pot. The pot I have is 16 quarts. It did not hold all of the apples I had.

Cut up apples and put them in a large pot

Cut up apples and put them in a large pot

When all the apples are in the pot, add about an inch or two of apple juice. I used an all natural apple juice with no sugar added, about half of a 64 ounce bottle. Bring the pot to a boil, and stir occasionally. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover, and cook until the apples are soft. This does not take very long, maybe an hour or so.

Apples cooking on the stove

Apples cooking on the stove

Once the apples are soft, you will put them through a food mill or sieve to remove the seeds and core. This is where I found out that I needed a food mill. So, I turned the apples off and left them sitting on the stove while I ran to town to find a food mill. I went to Wal-Mart, no food mill. Went to Kroger, no food mill. Went to Dollar General, no food mill. There were no other stores in my little town, so I started home, trying to think in my head what I would do since I did not have a food mill. Then I saw a flea market that was open. I went in, and the first person I talked to had a food mill. It was not a small one like I had been looking for, but a huge monstrosity of a thing that looked like I was going to go into the apple butter manufacturing business to justify having it in my home. But because it was a used thing, I only had to pay $22. She was asking $25 but all I had in my pocket was $22 so she took it. I bet she was glad to be rid of it!

 

Milling the apples

Milling the apples

I got home with the monstrosity of a food mill. This thing was supposed to clamp to a table top or counter top. It would not fit on my table or my counter top. I was about to cry, and was getting tired already. I didn’t know what to do. Fabgrandpa came to the rescue, and moved some stuff around on his workbench on the back porch so that the food mill would clamp onto the counter top out there. So it was that I spent an hour or two on the back porch, milling the apples.

The next step after the apples are milled is to put the applesauce into a crock pot or slow cooker with sugar and spices and let it cook overnight. I forgot to take a picture of the crock pot but I am sure you can imagine it: Applesauce up to the rim, with half a bowl of sauce left over, cooking all night long. There was applesauce and apple butter EVERYWHERE! On the kitchen table, on the counter top on the back porch, all over the kitchen counter. And not in jars, honey, just sticky stuff all over the place! This was a super messy job. Finally, it was time to put the apple butter into the jars, seal them and then put them in a water bath canner. The same stock pot I used to cook the apples doubled as the canner. I put the jars in boiling water, put the lid on the pot and let it boil for 15 minutes.

And finally, after all that work, I took 7 pints of apple butter out of the canner, and set them on a towel on the counter. And Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping! They all sealed! I felt so dang proud of myself for making apple butter!

7 jars of apple butter for my troubles!

7 jars of apple butter for my troubles!

So, here is what I learned. It is a big job to make apple butter. It can be messy. Next time, I would take the time to cut out the core and seeds, and then after the apples are cooked, use a food processor to blend in the peels. That would be much easier and less time consuming than using that mill contraption. I would also get a larger crock pot so that I could fit all of the applesauce in it.

And just as a sidenote, I used half as much sugar as the recipe called for and the apple butter tastes good. I also did not have cloves, ginger, and nutmeg as separate spices, so I used pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.

Farm Fresh Friday: Five Cedars Farm Cedartown Georgia

rattlesnake green beans

rattlesnake green beans

Fabgrandpa and I went out to Five Cedars Farm in Cedartown yesterday. I saw on their Facebook page that they had squash and green beans ready to go. Becky and Rafe are coming to dinner on Saturday, and I wanted to make a squash casserole for them, so this was good timing.

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash

The squash was soooo pretty! I bought about 4 pounds of it so I could also put some in the freezer. I have been slowly stocking things up throughout the summers so that when winter gets here I will still have farm fresh veggies to cook up. Just a little bit each week adds up, and doesn’t tire me out completely.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Just look at that beautiful eggplant. Although I made eggplant parm this week, and we ate it twice, I still wanted one of these so I can make some fried eggplant.  I love that I can get the smaller, less bitter eggplant at the farm. The ones you get at the grocery store are so big, and just don’t taste as good.

Red Onions

Red Onions

I picked up some red onions, a couple of bell peppers, and about 4 pounds of green beans to finish up my shopping. When we got home, I prepared the green beans and squash for the freezer, and wound up with three quarts of beans, and four quarts of squash in the freezer, plus enough to cook for our dinner guests on Saturday.

For dinner tonight, I used one of the bell peppers and one of the onions that I bought today, and served up some flounder with peppers and onions. Fabgrandpa was one happy guy!

Fabgrandpa

Fabgrandpa

Flounder with Peppers & Onions

1 bell pepper

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb flounder filets, cut into serving size pieces

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Cut the bell pepper in half, and removed the seeds and membranes. Cut into slices. Peel the onion, cut in half, and slice. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them up. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid. Add the vegetables to the skillet, and stir fry until the garlic starts to brown. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on the flounder filets. Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet, and add the fish pieces in, covering them with the vegetables as you go. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Cover the skillet, and cook for 10 minutes until fish is done. Serve over rice. Makes four servings.

Flounder with Bell Pepper and Onions

Flounder with Bell Pepper and Onions

I am looking forward to the coming weeks at Five Cedars. They have muscadine grapes, tomatoes and corn that will be ready soon. And Debbie said she is cutting okra tomorrow! I might have to go back and get some of that.

Tomatoes ready soon

Tomatoes not ripe yet.

Muscadines! they are so pretty!

Muscadines! they are so pretty!

 

The corn will be ready soon!

The corn will be ready soon!

Five Cedars Farm is located at 835 Cherokee Road in Cedartown, Georgia.  Like their Facebook page to keep up with what is available for sale, and the dates they are open. Right now, they sell direct from the farm Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You can also call before you go at 678-246-1216.

Farm Fresh Friday: Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market Carrollton Georgia

shopping for fresh veggies again in Carrollton, GA

shopping for fresh veggies again in Carrollton, Ga

A couple of weeks ago, Fabgrandpa and I got up early and headed to Carrollton, Georgia, which is about a twenty mile drive from our house. I had heard about the Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market that is located off the square in Carrollton and we decided to check it out.

The Garry Farm is one of the producers who has a booth at the Cotton Mill Market. The day we were there he had stalks of fresh brussells sprouts. I love brussells sprouts, but have never bought them on the stalk like that. One stalk was $3.00

Brussells Sprouts from the Garry Farm

Brussells Sprouts from the Garry Farm

These little sprouts were about as big as the end of my finger. I steamed them in the microwave with some fresh baby carrots, and it was so good!

Tomatoes from Harman Farms Produce

Tomatoes from Harman Farms Produce

At the Harmon Farms Produce booth, they had one heirloom tomato left. After we tasted the sample, we scooped that last one into our bag to take home. That was of the best tomatoes we ever ate!

Hembree Lane Farm

Hembree Lane Farm

We first saw Hembree Lane Farm at the Sewell Mill Community Farmer’s Market in Bremen. We bought some more of their green beans and tiny red potatoes. I also got a huge sprig of fresh basil at their booth.

Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market is located at 401 Rome Street in Carrollton, Georgia. They are open on Saturdays only from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. Join their newsletter and facebook page at www.cottonmillfarmersmarket.org. or  E-mail them at cottonmillfm@yahoo.com.

Farm Fresh Friday: Five Cedars Farm Cedartown Georgia

Last week Fabgrandpa and I continued our search for local farmers. This time, we headed over to Cedartown, Georgia, where we found Five Cedars Farm. Five Cedars is owned and operated by Hank and Debbie Connelly. DSCN0156

Debbie was on duty when we arrived and was more than happy to show us the fields where they grow the produce they sell. They start their own plants in the enclosed tunnel, and have tomatoes growing in there now to help control the amount of water they are getting. The weather certainly does play a big part how well vegetable plants produce. Getting too much water is just as bad a getting too little.

Eggplant. I can not wait to make some eggplant parmesean.

Eggplant. I can not wait to make some eggplant parmesean.

Debbie told me they will have eggplant, okra, green beans, october beans, and corn soon, but that with all the rain we have had it has slowed down the growth of the plants. It is hard to get out and work the garden when it is raining.

i think this is beans

i think this is beans

Fabgrandpa and I bought some of these tomatoes and red onions. I made a salad using one of the red onions, and I have to say, it was delicious!

Tomatoes and red onions

Tomatoes and red onions

We also got some bell peppers, some cherry tomatoes, and some potatoes. I used some of the potatoes and another red onion to make some home made potato salad. Fabgrandpa loves for me to keep a bowl of potato salad in the refrigerator for him to snack on.

New red potatoes

New red potatoes

I loved that I could pick out the size of potatoes I wanted. I got some bigger ones for the potato salad, and some of the smaller ones to cook with some green beans. These tasted so good!

Lots of peppers

Lots of peppers

There were lots of different kinds of peppers to choose from. Bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, hot peppers, jalapeno peppers. I got some of the jalapenos to use when I make some Pork and Chile Stew this week.

Price list for canned goods.

Price list for canned goods.

In addition to fresh vegetables, Five Cedars Farm also sells pickles, relishes, jams, and jellies that they have made with their produce. We didn’t buy any this time, but we are planning to go back soon.

Five Cedars Farm is located at 835 Cherokee Road in Cedartown, Georgia.  Like their Facebook page to keep up with what is available for sale, and the dates they are open. Right now, they sell direct from the farm Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You can also call before you go at 678-246-1216.