Meandering down a path of Creativity

It’s been a while…

I have not been keeping up with my plans to post over here regularly. I’ve had plenty of ideas for posts, but just have not done too well with the follow through. Shortly after my last post, I began an internship at a local farm, where I was supposed to be learning about goat care and cheese making. I really learned a lot, mainly about cheese… not so much about the goats, which was my primary purpose for going there, but I’m continuing to volunteer there and am hoping the goat care stuff is still coming. Cheese making winds down when the goats dry up (they have a 10 month lactation cycle), and it’s currently breeding season. The babies that come from the breeding that is happening now should be born in early spring. My internship started when the 2014 kids were about a month old, and I am super excited at the prospect of being involved in bringing the next kids into the world! Have you ever seen a baby goat? Up close and personal? They are too cute for words!

So anyway, I am going to be trying to, once again, make a habit of blogging here. If I disappear for a while, feel free to come look me up on G+. I’m also going to be getting more active over there, as I look to cut back on my Facebook time. I am listed as Melanie White, email address mrabe924@gmail.com.

And, just because everyone needs some silly goat from time to time, here is a picture of Dolly. She is the oldest goat over at the farm, and has been taken out of breeding rotation this year. She is my favorite out of the 40-some odd milking does. She’s sweet natured and generally well behaved, but she tends to get very wriggly when she sees a camera. She also seems to always be sticking her tongue out at me. She doesn’t do this to anyone else, and I’m not really sure what it means, but it cracks me up, every time.

 

believe it or not, I've snapped dozens of photos of her, and this is the least blurry one!

Dolly, sticking her tongue out at me and being wriggly for the camera

 

I love to can. I’m not sure why it’s called canning when you put the stuff in glass jars, but I do know that food safety is nothing to mess around with. I’ve been contemplating a post about why safe food handling and processing procedures are so important, wanting to pull out my old textbooks and share all of the nitty gritty details with you, and find share-able charts and stuff, but well, it just hasn’t happened. So instead, I’ll share a little bit of the stuff that’s just knocking around in my noggin, after many years of canning and a few years of food and nutrition courses in college (I was a nutrition major).

It’s not just about botulism!  Read the rest of this entry »

Asparagus… it’s the first thing I get to harvest from the veggie garden, and it’s the first culinary sign of spring for me. When I see those gorgeous little spears first poking up from the ground it makes me downright giddy!

ugly, messy, and unkempt, but the asparagus doesn't care!

not the best pic, but it does show a few spears…

Read the rest of this entry »

I missed doing the Friday post I had planned because life has just been getting a little crazy lately. I spent a couple of hours today re-potting my tomato seedlings- the poor babies had roots coming out the bottom of their starter flat! I’ll be re-potting the rest of them tomorrow, after a trip to the Emmaus Farmers’ Market. I love that they are a producer-only market, which means everything I get from them is locally grown/produced, and tomorrow they will have the first of the seedlings available! I start most of my plants from seed myself, but I purchase some from there to help fill in any gaps. I also have a couple of vendors there who are my absolute favorites.

One of the favorites is B.A.D. Farm- where they don’t live up to their name. Owned and operated by Beth And Dave Rice, they sell meat and dairy products, as well as eggs, that are absolutely wonderful. Yes, the soft-boiled eggs I wrote about earlier this month are made with their delicious brown eggs. (And yes, I actually can taste a difference between brown and white eggs, and brown eggs from them versus brown eggs from the grocery store, LOL). The dairy products include some really great flavored cheeses and dips, made by Beth. They are good people with really yummy offerings, so if you find yourself in Emmaus, PA on Farm Market Day (every Sunday from May 1 through the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and alternating Sundays through the winter), I highly recommend popping over and seeing what yummy stuff is available!

Both the Emmaus Farmers’ Market and B.A.D. Farm are on Facebook, too, if you’re interested to see what they are up to:

https://www.facebook.com/EmmausFarmersMarket

https://www.facebook.com/dave.rice.716?fref=ufi

I’ll be back to posting about garden stuff on Monday or Tuesday. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

My seedlings are in that stage where I’m just waiting for them to get big enough to begin hardening off. The only news on that front is that about half of my mouse melons, aka Mexican Sour Gherkins, sprouted yesterday- this is my first year growing them, and I am very excited about that! I was surprised that it only took about 4 days for them to begin poking up through the soil! My seedlings are all in that stage that requires an abundance of patience, as I watch and wait for them to get big enough to begin hardening off. I have a circulating fan that will be set up to blow on them later today, and I’ll probably begin re-potting and thinning the tomatoes tomorrow. So anyway, that’s the ‘State of the Garden’ report.

Since I don’t have any garden tips today, I figured that this would be a good time to share one method of stretching the food budget. There is a lot of food waste in this country, and I often shake my head at the price of convenience. I try very hard to use up everything I can, and waste as little as possible. As well as being earth-friendly, it’s usually good for the body and less expensive than making ‘convenience’ purchases, too. I’m not going to go all preachy about that stuff, though. I’ll simply say that there was a time when boxed or canned broths were not available, and people needed to make them from scratch. With all of the food allergies and sensitivities people are beginning to recognize, it’s become a necessity for some of us, but it’s surprisingly easy to do, and is a great way to give your recipes an extra punch of both flavor and nutrition, and bonus- it’s pretty much free!

Read the rest of this entry »

When you start your seedlings indoors, they are in very sheltered conditions. This is a very good and happy thing for them, as it allows them to devote their energy to sprouting and getting a good start growing. If they’re going to be transplanted outside, though, they need some help in developing the strength they’ll need to make that transition successfully, and you can start giving them a little extra help in that department as soon as they’ve developed their first set of true leaves.

Read the rest of this entry »

Okay, I admit it- I’m a newsletter junkie. I subscribe to any newsletter that might possibly have a single tidbit of information that interests me. And then they get filed into my email folders, often never to be opened. The primary exception to this is the gardening-related newsletters- they at least get skimmed through somewhere around 75% of the time. At this time of year, every year, there is one topic that rings through them all, almost without fail. That topic is rookie gardening mistakes. And they all boil down to one thing- a lack of basic knowledge and failure to plan according to that knowledge.

There’s a lot of information out there, and it would be impossible to memorize it all with a single read-through… not to mention that there’s a lot of bad or inaccurate information out there, and rookies are unlikely to be able to tell what’s good and what’s not since they don’t have the baseline knowledge. So here are a few tips that I think might be helpful to the novice gardener…
Read the rest of this entry »

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