Meandering down a path of Creativity

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…

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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!

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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.

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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…
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It has been absolutely beautiful out for the past several days- the average high temperature has been around 68F, and the overnight lows have only dipped into the high 40′s once! My crocuses started blooming during the first week of the month, the first of my daffodils popped open on Friday, and my lilacs are swelled up with new buds. These, to me, are the first real signs of spring, and I wait for them expectantly every year. An inexperienced gardener might think that with all of this activity, it’s now safe to just get those plants outside and into the ground. The more experienced gardener knows better, though, and this week’s weather forecast is a perfect example of why. For my area, temperatures are expected to drop into the 20′s for the next few nights, and there’s potential for snow tonight!  Read the rest of this entry »

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