Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder

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It has been a very hectic Spring and Summer here at the Homestead, not just the usual busy gardening season (which is now winding down), but we have had a lot of excitement with the construction of a new garage as well as a 3 Season Room addition to the Homestead. Exciting, but also anxiety filled when dealing with a contractor, glad that part is now behind us!  Now that the structures are up and usable it is time to get back to doing what I love, crafting and cooking!

We had a lovely hot, dry summer and the pepper garden exploded with produce as a result.  I have already pickled quite a few jalapenos, chopped and froze gypsy peppers, roasted poblano peppers and new this year is pickling pepperoncini peppers and making my own hot sauce for hubby (more on those two in later posts), but lets jump back a step to the poblano peppers.

Poblanos are my favourite pepper, their flavour is so vastly different from any other pepper, with just a mild tingle of heat.  They are a staple in Mexican cuisine and a staple in my kitchen.

I had 2 corn cobs leftover from the weekend in the fridge and needed to use them up before they got starchy (corn cobs left too long see the natural sugars in the corn turn into starch, then the corn becomes unappetizing and tough) and I had just picked 8 poblano peppers to roast so I thought hmmm…why not make a soup out these two lovely candidates?  Corn goes well with Poblanos so I pulled out some frozen chicken stock from the freezer and got to work.

The result? A savoury and delightful soup packed with great flavour!

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Ingredients

6 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 ears of sweet corn, roasted or grilled and kernels cut from the cob
2.5 cups of chicken stock (for a vegetarian option, use veggie stock)
3 Tbsp butter (or Olive Oil)
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 chopped cilantro stems (reserve some leaves for garnish)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (more to taste at the end)
Crema, Crème Fresh, Yogurt or Sour Cream for garnish
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Directions
In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt butter and sweat onions until soft and translucent (about 7 to 8 minutes). Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir to combine. Add chicken stock (or veggie stock if using) and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add poblanos, corn, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Remove from heat and using an immersion blender, blitz soup to desired consistency (or use a regular blender, careful transferring soup contents as they will be hot!).

Place soup back on low heat and add the lime juice and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with a dollop of crema (or your preferred option listed above), hot sauce and fresh cilantro.

Buen Provecho!

Makes 6 servings

Deborah

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12 Grain Bagel How-To

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Again, necessity is the mother of invention.  I was happily munching away on Costco’s Whole Wheat Bagels when a month ago, they decided to stop selling them. Perhaps I was the only one buying them, but it still irked me that they yanked them from the shelves.

So… I decided to look around the fabulous interweb for either a whole wheat or better yet, a 12 grain recipe and surprisingly there is quite a few available.  I spent one morning a couple weeks ago reading through the top 5 or 6 on the google search, some more detailed than others, some using ingredients that I thought was odd, one even using some sort of sourdough starter that you needed to prep the day before.  I wasn’t willing to spend that much energy on making bagels, one that could be done within a 3 hour time frame would be perfect.

I settled on one from here: http://bonappetitnb.blogspot.com/2012/06/homemade-12-grain-bagels.html but when I made the dough as written, it was crumbly and dry.  There wasn’t near enough moisture to accommodate 4 cups of flour.  I ended up adding some warm water at the end just to get the dough to come together and while the bagels turned out ok, they needed something else.  They were a tad bland overall.

20190416_134337So today I am making a 2nd batch and decided to swap the 1 tbsp of sugar out for 2 tbsp of honey (I know, it may seem like a lot, especially with honey being a lot sweeter than sugar, but I am looking for that honey-whole-wheat taste that I think this will provide) and  I am also bumping up the liquid, 1 cup of milk just didn’t do last time. This time I upped it to a cup and half as well as bumping the butter from a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.

The end result? Fabulous! They have texture, are chewy like a bagel is supposed to be (not airy and fluffy like a loaf of white bread) and the taste from the honey and 12 grain flour is enough to satisfy the taste buds.

20190417_060052These really are quite easy to put together, I always viewed bagels as a long, drawn out process akin to the Ukrainian Easter Paska Bread I make and didn’t want to work that hard for a bunch of bagels, but these turned out not as much of a time suck as I thought.

For those wishing to give this a go, below is the recipe, enjoy!

Deborah

12 Grain Bagel Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups scalded milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 Cup butter (unsalted)
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp instant yeast
3 Cups All-Purpose flour
1 Cup 12 Grain flour

Directions

In a 2 cup measuring cup, scald the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Remove and add the butter and let it sit to come to room temp (about 20 – 25 minutes). The butter will melt into the milk. Add the honey and whisk to combine.

Place the milk/honey/butter mixture into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast overtop. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg after the yeast has bloomed.

Meanwhile, while yeast is blooming, combine the flours and salt in another bowl and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together until the dough forms a ball. It will be a tad sticky at this point. On a floured surface, knead the dough (add small amounts of flour a bit at a time) until it is no longer sticky.

20190416_110832Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm oven (I turn the oven element on until it just starts to glow, then I turn it off) to proof for an hour.

20190416_122102After proofing, remove dough from bowl onto a floured surface and add just a tich more flour to counteract the oil.  Shape the dough into a long log and cut into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a thin log, then shape into a circle and pinch the ends together (use a bit of water if necessary to get it to stay together). Place bagels on a sheet pan lined with parchment and let proof for another 45 minutes to an hour.

20190416_12263520190416_12271720190416_12292720190416_125647Meanwhile, get a large pot of water on a near boiling simmer, just until little bubbles start to form at the bottom of the pot.

When bagels are proofed, add 2 tsp of Baking Soda to the pot of water and place bagels into the pot a few at a time, don’t crowd them as they will begin to puff up quickly.

Cook bagels for one minute on one side, then flip and cook another 2 minutes. Gently remove bagels back to the sheet pan. Careful, if handled too roughly they do tend to deflate.  Also, try and work quickly as time deflates them as well..ask me how I know.

If you want a nice sheen on the bagels, brush a little beaten egg white on the surface of each one before baking. (note – if you want to add decorations, this would be the time to sprinkle on sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc. after brushing with egg white)

Bake bagels in a pre-heated 400°F oven for 15 to 25 minutes depending on their size, until they are a golden brown.

Remove from the sheet pan as soon as they come out of the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Then enjoy with your favourite jam, lox and cream cheese or peanut butter!

 

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Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash and Root Veggie Soup

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Sometimes I like to have an adult version of butternut squash soup.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the pureed version, but there are times when a chunky version fits the “chilly Fall day” without feeling like you are eating baby food.

This recipe came about like most of the ones I do…..I look in the fridge and see all the leftovers and “not-enough-ofs” and go from there. Today, October 9th, in Northern Ontario, Mother Nature decided to jack up the temperature,  just for fun I guess after a solid week of cold, blustery, rainy weather.  It ended up being 75F (24C) and very humid, but the day didn’t start out like that so at 6 am in the morning I roasted a butternut squash until soft, golden and filling the house with its delicious nutty aroma and left it to cool while I did some outdoor chores.

12 hours later and starving, I pulled out 3 leftover parsnips from the fridge, the last of the carrots I yanked from the garden today and the remaining equation to the culinary trio, some celery and onions. After dicing my way through the veggies to some very lively Spanish guitar music, soon the holy trinity et al were being sautéed to a golden brown. I then added the chunks of squash, freshly made chicken stock (thank you sweet son-in-law for leaving me with the cherished poultry carcasses last weekend), along with some just picked garden thyme and voila, after a 30 minute simmer…delicioso!!!!

For those needing structure, the recipe is below in its entirety,  but oh man, was it fabulous with toasted whole grain bread and a sprinkle of parmesan I think it is my new favourite soup!

Provecho!
Deborah

Chunky Roasted Butternut Squash & Root Veggie Soup

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Ingredients
1 Medium Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes*
3 Parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large rib of Celery, diced
1/2 Red Onion, diced
2 small cloves of Garlic, mashed
5 Cups Home-Made Chicken Stock (use Veggie stock for a vegetarian option)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper & Sea Salt to taste
1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves
Olive Oil

Directions

* Toss cubed squash lightly with Olive Oil and Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400F degree oven for about 30 minutes or until browned all over and tender inside (stir often), set aside and let cool.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add 2 to 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil and add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and thyme leaves.  Cook, stirring often for about 10 to 15 minutes until veggies are soft.

Add butternut squash and mix gently.  Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings just before serving.

Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and toasted, crusty bread for dipping.

Makes about 6 Cups.

 

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Alpaca Throw Blanket ~ Take II

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3 years after I started spinning alpaca fibre for my very first alpaca blanket (Fert & Palladin Throw Blanket) that was finally woven in 2016, I am back for more punishment (?) to spin and weave a new one.

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Why you ask when I already have this gorgeous one? Well, because after its first season at the cottage, I needed to wash it to put it away for the impending close of the cottage and it partially felted in my dumb washing machine.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike my washing machine? Its mainly because I didn’t get to choose which one I wanted, this one came with the purchase of our condo down south.  Now most women prefer to select a washing machine that will be best suited to her needs, but this one is far from it for me.  Unfortunately it will have to do until it keels over, and it most likely will not just to spite me.

So I soaked the blanket in the bathtub with some Synthrapol (textile detergent) and then popped the blanket in the washing machine and selected the ”spin” cycle to get the water out, but, said dumb machine stops and starts its spinning every 15 seconds and with all the flopping around the blanket started to felt.

Not impressed.

At All.

So, last year I picked up a whole bunch of alpaca from a nearby ranch (where I picked up the cria fleece from Fuerig, remember the black shawl I made last year?) and have started spinning for a new blanket.  I have 3 skeins done so far.  This is a 3-ply, worsted weight (about 9 wpi) and with being a 3-ply, will take me considerable time to spin enough for the new project.  I started spinning the white alpaca fibre and after the 3 skeins were plyed, decided to dye them.

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The 2 outer skeins were dyed using dyestock derived from avocado skins that had been fermented in a 50/50 ammonia/water solution for 4 months.  Since I used natural materials for these 2 skeins, it is a slightly lengthier process to prepare the fibres for dyeing than using commercial acid dyes, but the results are worth the effort.  The end colour is a soft beige, which is hard to tell in the photo, but trust me, they are not the bright white they were before dyeing.   I just love when my minds eye is rewarded with what it sees.

The reddish skein was kettle dyed using commercial acid dyes in a rust-brown colour  with a splash of bright red.  Kettle dyeing gives the classic appearance of a tonal yarn. Again, pretty darn close to what I was going for. Since I only have white and brown alpaca, I wanted to dye some of the skeins to increase the colour palette for the blanket.  So far so good!

I just need to finish up with the overabundance of garden produce and canning activities this month so I can get back to carding and spinning…hopefully by Spring I will have enough yarn to be put on the loom!

Deborah

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Late Summer Woodland Sights

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This morning I headed out on a solitary walk to view the surrounding flora and fauna as well as enjoy one of the last warm days of summer.  The end of August had arrived and even though we have a very humid air mass at the moment that seems to be stuck overhead I could feel the beginning of a change of season.

The days are shorter as well as the shadows cast from the sun slanting farther afield.  Some of the leaves on trees and shrubs are already starting to turn colour and the late summer flowering plants were in full bloom…plants like Wild Aster & Goldenrod

Wild Aster

Goldenrod and wild aster

and a few wild Evening Primroses scattered along the roadside offering up their showy blooms for me to appreciate and admire.

Evening Primrose

As I headed down Bear Creek Road, the woodlands on either side of the road were silent except for one lively Chickadee.  2 months ago there was a cacophony of birdsong from the many different warblers, veery, sparrows et al that was at times deafening.  Today though, all was quiet in the woods with most of the summer avians already making their way south to warmer climes leaving behind the winter residents to enjoy the peaceful woodlots by themselves.

I came across a silver maple that had one of its lower branches just starting to turn colour, along with the low lying Virginal Creeper displaying a lonely branch that had turned crimson red against a still green backdrop.

Virginia Creeper

Soon the woodlands would be a brilliant display of golds, yellows, oranges and reds, along with crisp, cooler air, but for today, as I walked along enjoying the peace and quiet of my solitary stroll with the different shades and hues of green greeting my eyes, I was savouring every last moment of warmth from the waning season.

Once I got to Bear Creek at the beginning of Bear Creek Road, I turned around and headed back but not before snapping a pic of the shallow creek that runs under the road.  The summer drought had dropped its level dramatically, but with the recent rains it was starting to creep up to its normal level this time of year.

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As I headed back to the Homestead, a noise to my left caught my attention.  I strained to see into the still green woods and just barely caught a glimpse of a deer as she headed farther back into the woods out of sight.  I attempted to snap a pic of her but she was gone in an instant, leaving me to reflect on how such a large creature can seemingly vanish before my eyes like a ghost.

Woodland

 I never take the world around me for granted, there are so many things to see and enjoy in the great outdoors, in any weather, in any season and I encourage you to do the same.  Put down the phone, get outside and explore nature in all its beauty!

Deborah

 

 

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Piñata Travel Bag Project

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2 years ago I had an ambitious idea. Weave enough fabric to make a travel bag set for myself.  These bags will be for weekend trips, I certainly wouldn’t allow any baggage handler near these beauties.

But before physically starting the project I had to sit down and design on paper (following up on the computer) and do all the math calculations for how much I would need for the warp and weft.  For those not familiar with weaving, the warp is the “vertical” threads that are placed on the loom from front to back and the “weft” is what you place side to side.  Typically you use more materials (yarns) for the warp than the weft.

Anyway, back to calculations, which is made easier by Microsoft Excel.  Spreadsheets can take the screw-ups out of calculations (as long as you don’t have errors in your formulas!) and make life a lot easier. So I took my blank “Project File” where I have all my formulas entered and made a copy so I could work on the new travel bag project.

Pretty exciting looking isn’t it?

Pinata Warp and Weft Calcs copy

This is only one page of the spreadsheet, there are 2 others but I won’t make your eyes glaze over by detailing them.

After all the calculations were done, I needed to wind the lengths needed for the warp as well the ones to be dyed.  I was using commercially dyed cotton yarn for the bulk of the warp, but 3 light purple-y shades (centre wide stripe and the same shade on either side) were going to be space dyed.  Dyeing yarns are a fun way of exploring and playing with colour.  There are 2 different dye types though as one is suitable for plant based fibres (cotton, linen, etc.) and the other type is for protein fibres (wool, silk, alpaca, etc.)  I had picked up some packages of Dylon fabric dyes at JoAnn Fabrics in the U.S. (1/3rd the price than here in Canada) and arranged a dye day with my northern homestead neighbor Kathy.

We set up a couple long tables outside at her place, lined them with heavy plastic and got to work “painting” our yarns.  I neglected to get a photo at this stage, probably because I was wearing rubber gloves as well as up to my elbows in colourful dyes.  But I did get a pic of them hanging to dry inside the homestead on my vintage wall drying rack.

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BTW, this rack is perfect for drying yarns, make sure they have dripped off outside though otherwise you make a mess of your flooring.

Once the yarns were done and dried, it was time to get them ready to go on the loom.

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After I wound the commercial coloured yarns, about 4 hours of threading commenced.  Warping a loom is very, very time consuming.  From start to finish, from winding the warp to getting the loom threaded and tied onto the loom is about 8 hours, depending how wide your project is. This one is the full width of my loom (45″) so was at the top end of time needed to get done.  Once on the loom though, weaving goes fairly fast.

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I started with black for weft, then changed to purple to see how I liked the colour interaction.  I didn’t.  The twill pattern was getting lost against all colours of the warp.  So back to using black.  I wove just over 6 yards of material.  Which took me about 6 weeks, mainly because of work and other life obligations.

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Here is the roll of fabric building up on the front beam.  Ask any weaver and there is nothing as pretty as a fat roll of fabric to look at.

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Here it is pulled off the loom, what a gorgeous sight!

Once the fabric was done, it was washed, dried and put away until I could find some time to sew the travel bags, which actually took just over a year later to accomplish mainly due to life plus I wasn’t happy with any of the luggage bag patterns I had seen to date.

I also needed to weave the straps that would be the handles on the luggage. I bristled at the thought of using commercial webbing for the straps.  So I bought some matching colours of a thicker cotton yarn and warped my Inkle loom to make the straps.  I wove 3 altogether, 2 for the main luggage bag and one for the laptop carrying messenger bag.

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Here is one of the straps against the fabric, a pretty darn good match!

Fast forward to late May 2018 and I finally had gathered everything I needed for the bags; zippers, thread, D-rings for the handles, lining fabric and a really neat iron on padding material called In-R-Form (not sold in Canada, had to order from the U.S.) that makes fabric stiff, but padded as well.  Great for laptops bags.

I brought pretty much every piece of equipment and my notion organizers up to the homestead and got to work sewing.  After 3 days (on/off), the main travel duffel bag was complete and literally, after I finished the very last seam, my machine broke down.  It needed servicing so off it went to get fixed.  A week later I was back in business.  Meanwhile I finally found a great messenger bag pattern off Pinterest as well as a cute box bag style toiletry case and after another couple days…voila!  All were finished!

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I had enough material left over for a generous “bath sheet” size towel.  Being 100% cotton, it can be used as either a beach towel or a throw to cover up in.

2 years of planning, weaving and sewing has finally come to an end and I just love the results!  By the way, you should have been able to figure out why I called it my “Piñata” travel bag project ;)

Deborah

 

 

 

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Smoked Gouda, Mushroom & Spinach Pizza

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It didn’t take me long to whip up a pizza utilizing the freshly smoked gouda cheese.  I kept the pizza simple with no strong ingredients to compete with the cheese and it was absolutely delicioso!

Studio_20180430_095325Want to make your own?  Take my whole wheat pizza crust recipe here and top with a minimal amount of pizza sauce, thinly sliced red onion, tomatoes, mushrooms and baby spinach leaves.  Top with grated smoked gouda and cook in a 475F oven until the edges start to crisp, flip to broil and broil until cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy!

Deborah

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Smoked Gouda ~ Cheese Heaven

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The Homestead acquired a new appliance a few weeks ago.

An electric Smoker.  We should have bought one at least 25 years ago, I probably spent as much money as a smoker on store bought smoked gouda over the years.

By now you can guess what was the first thing that went into the smoker, yup, CHEESE.

I love cheese.  Who doesn’t love cheese? (If they don’t, they are weird) So I googled how to smoke cheese and its pretty darn simple; add some wood chips (we used Apple) set the temperature for NO HIGHER than 90F (32C) and leave in the smoker for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  We did have a heck of time keeping the wood chips going as the low temperature selected meant the heating element wasn’t hot enough to light the wood chips.  The solution was to open the little exterior drawer where the chips were and light them with a propane torch.

I smoked two types of cheese, Gouda and Swiss.  The Swiss cheese we tried out on Montreal Smoked Meat Sammies, which reinforced and highlighted the “smoked” flavour in the sandwich title. We will definitely be using the smoked Swiss in those sammies from now on.

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As for the gouda ~ I haven’t had a taste yet, but I am planning a smoked gouda “white pizza” very, very soon, so will report back afterward.

Meanwhile, the next item smoked was salmon (oh so yummy) as well a chipotle rubbed pork tenderloin, both of which turned out AMAZING!  We will definitely be getting a lot of use out of this new appliance, the possibilities are endless!

I have been cruising websites looking for different ideas and recipes that will certainly get tested out over the summer.  If you  have been sitting on the fence about getting a smoker, I highly recommend you get off the fence and get one! You won’t regret it.

Deborah

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Growing like….weeds

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Yup.  Growing season has commenced!  Things are right on schedule in the seedling world.  So much so that I had to give the pepper plants a haircut to promote bushier growth as opposed to wanting to be giant bean stalk height.  They have been under a grow light since they sprouted and have just gone crazy.

The tomatoes are now well on their way. I started them a full month after the peppers because last year I experimented with starting peppers early to be immensely rewarded with fruit ready much sooner and more mature plants by the time I got them nestled into their summer beds.  The tomatoes will soon catch up and surpass the peppers in no time as they are such fast growers_DSC6532I have also started my next pot of cilantro as the first one is bolting already.  It doesn’t matter how often I snip and use up the ‘soapy’ herb, it still wants to bolt when IT wants to.  The mint is also getting out of control, he is ready for a hair cut as well.

I started the mint and basil this year from cuttings from last years plants as trying to get them started from seeds is a HUGE hassle, especially mint.  So I put the cuttings in glasses of water to root, then planted them where they slowly established themselves over the winter in pots.  In the past few weeks, they have exploded.  I gave the basil a severe haircut and froze the leaves in a new-fangled procedure I learned off the inter-web.  Once I go to use some of the frozen basil the next time I need some in a recipe, I will let you all know how it fared out.

_DSC6531Now I just need to concentrate on keeping my little green buddies healthy until I get them planted at the Northern Homestead…which, with the way this Spring has been going (or lack thereof), may not be until August!

What have you started to grow? Do you have a favourite tomato or pepper type? or other veggies?

Deborah

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Its almost time….

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Time for what you say?

Seed planting time!!!!!

Seeds have been ordered and delivered, planting pots and trays are out of storage and at the ready.  All I need is a bag or two of seed potting medium and I am ready to roll!

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Hurry up February 15th!

That is the day I start my peppers seeds.  Let year I decided to start the peppers a month earlier than the Toms as they are slower growing and I have found they take longer to mature and fruit in the shorter growing season of the Northern Homestead.  Boy did it work out fabulous as they were fruiting 3 weeks earlier than the year before.

I planted them in the raised beds the end of April keeping the plastic rolled down for the greenhouse effect until after the last frost date to which they responded by growing into tall, sturdy plants loaded with fruit being harvested in a much shorter time.

So for now, the days count down slowly as I anxiously await the 15th of February to get my little charges into their new little peat pot homes. Yippee!

What will you grow this year?

Deborah

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