Thursday, July 09, 2009

All kinds of busy!

Ruby chard is one of our go-to veggies here at Seven Trees. It makes a nice salad green when young, and cooks up tasty once it matures. It grows well in cold weather and is slower to bolt than spinach in warm weather. Usually we freeze the surplus for winter after a quick chop & blanch. But those crunchy, juicy red stems are also excellent made into relish. Here's a recipe we found online that is well worth trying if you have a lot of chard in your garden....

2 lbs (4 cups) swiss chard stalks only
1 lb (2 cups) onions
1 lb (2 cups) celery
1/2 lb (1 cup) red peppers
2 cups vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup salt

Finely chop vegetables, mix together and set aside. Bring to a boil vinegar, sugar, mustard, turmeric and curry powder. Remove ¾ cup of liquid and mix with cornstarch. Set aside. Add salt & vegetables to remaining liquid and simmer until tender stirring often. Add corn starch mixture and stir continually until thick. Place in prepared jars and seal. (We do 10 minutes in a water bath canner.)

And now for the 'busy' part.....
We've gotten a first coat of paint on most of the house now. Funny how painting always takes much longer than you plan for. But it looks great and will do wonders protecting this 89 year-old tiny farmhouse.
The prep work is half the battle...brushing off webs & yellow jacket nests, a soapy scrub down, caulking any gaps or holes... Lots of people pressure wash their houses, but with one this old, and cedar sided, pressure washing can drive water up into the siding and cause rot inside the walls. It's also important to leave the bottom run of siding uncaulked so the walls can breathe. Old houses have their own needs, but when you do it right, they far outlast new construction. The last time this house was inspected, it was said to have an effective age of only 15 years!
Here's rooster, known as #1. We're hoping he outgrows his teenage rowdiness and has some manners with the ladies. Right now he's still a bit uncouth, but so handsome we'd like to use him to breed our next batch of chicks from. If he doesn't turn out to be a gentleman, he'll go in the stockpot and we'll keep trying. He's fairly friendly though, and likes cuddling. You can tell Stew would much rather have him as broth....
Our painting vacation got rained out a couple of days. Almost every house critter is in this photo. Cats, dogs & parrot make for a lively household when they're all in the same room, not to mention the humans!
New visitors to Seven Trees are a pair of cedar waxwings. They aren't rare to the area, but we've never seen them here before. I think they're trying to nest in the apple tree behind this maple, but our painting activity is making them nervous. Hopefully they will stick it out til we're done. It's always nice to know we're making good habitat for native birds. We also have a pair of swallows which are most likely violet-green swallows nesting in a birdhouse on one of the front fir trees. They eat flying insects, so they should help keep the pest population down this summer.

The garden is coming along great. So far we're harvesting carrots, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, chard, onions, garlic, kohlrabi, a cuke and one tasty Stupice tomato. The squash are going gangbusters, with the Uncle David Dakota Dessert squash doing its best to take over the garden. We are also growing our old favorite, Sweet Dumpling Delicata. So tasty, a great keeper, and one squash makes 2 nice serivings. We snuck a few Sugar Pie pumpkins in, and they are starting to ramble all over the garden as well. Looks like a good summer for warm weather crops.

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