Around the Yard

The New Geek Homestead

We have exciting news to share but we still need to work on the post for it. Hopefully, in the next few days!

In the meantime, I’m able to get back into baking, which makes me happy.

Today, I made this Potato Bread Recipe using the dough cycle of my bread maker for the first rise. Then, I followed the rest of the recipe using two loaf pans. I think I might need to buy some bread flour because these loaves are pillowy soft from all-purpose flour, which she mentions in the recipe. I’m still happy with how these turned out though and am very glad they didn’t collapse, which happened to me yesterday with my bread maker!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

-Lynn

Pomegranate Harvest

Today while I was feeding the chickens, I noticed that we had a pomegranate split while on the tree. That is usually how I know they are ripe enough to pick.

I had a lot going on today, but I was able to quickly run out and pick them all.

We ended up with 56 pomegranates this year. I believe we had around 20 last year.

Many of them are quite large. I had my nine year old hold a couple near his head to see the size of them.

We have already juiced some of them to use in baking. We are going to make white cupcakes with pomegranate Buttercream frosting and chocolate Bundt cake with pomegranate juice in it.

Pomegranates are very messy when being juiced, and now parts of our kitchen looks like someone has been bleeding there.

We will try to get some cupcake pictures posted later.

-Joshua

We Acquired a Chicken

One our neighbors used to have a lot of chickens. I think they had well over 50, which is a huge number on a quarter acre suburban lot. Sometime around the beginning of December, they seem to have gotten rid of the chickens. Three of the chickens somehow ended up running loose. They lived in another neighbors yard, but came into ours to eat. Unfortunately, that means they ate some small plants I had in my garden.

Off and on my boys and I would try to catch the chickens. However, they were usually just a little bit to fast for us. Eventually, the three chickens became one, I don’t know what happened to the other two. She was friendly, but would jump our fence if she thought we were going to try and catch her. Finally, last week we were able to trap her in a spot between our shed and fence with a lemon tree over the top. I used a laundry basket to catch her.

Several months ago, a friend gave us a small chicken coop that they didn’t want. I had slowly been preparing the coop for chickens to live in. Mostly I had to level a spot in our yard for the coop while trying to keep decent drainage. Thankfully, I had the coop ready when we caught the chicken.

Chicken coop

Our children have decided that we name our animals after foods. Since the chicken is dark, they named her Truffle.

From her markings I believe she is an Australorp. The hens are mostly black, but have purple and green iridescence when seen in the sun.

She has been a good egg layer in the week and a half we have had her. So far she has laid 7 eggs. At one point she laid 6 days in a row. Her eggs are a light brown color, they can almost seem pink at times.

Chicken egg

She is a social bird. When we come near the coop she come to the edge, and will sometimes talk to us. I think our next step is to buy a couple more chickens to give her friends. Of course, more eggs wouldn’t be bad either.

-Joshua

Preserving Beans By Freezing

 

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This year the green and wax been plants have done very well.  We have ate beans much more often then the children would prefer.  I have also given bags of beans to my parents.  However, there were still multiple gallon zip lock bags of beans in the refrigerator.  Since we had so many beans on hand I decided to freeze some of the beans.

The first step is to clean the beans and remove any damage sections.  I had a few beans that had some spots where bugs had helped themselves to my beans.  There were also a few beans that had touched the ground, and had sections that didn’t look nice.  This is also a good time to remove the ends of the beans were they had attached to the plants.

For me the second step is to cut the beans into smaller sections.  I make them as close to bite size as I can.  Since these beans were fresh, I was able to just snap them into pieces.  You could do this at the same time you remove the unwanted parts from the beans.  I don’t do it that way because I have a way of mixing the unwanted parts with the good beans.

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Breaking the beans into pieces

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Beans broken into sections

While you are breaking up the beans you can start some water boiling.  You will probably need a big pot if you have a large number of beans.  Put enough water in the pot to cover the beans you are going to put in it.

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Boil the beans for about 3 minutes.  This process is called blanching.  I don’t fully understand the science behind this process, but somehow it helps the beans preserve better.  It helps preserve the color and texture of the beans during the freezing process.

After 3 minutes, remove the beans from the boiling water and quickly but them into ice water.  This stops the cooking process, so the beans don’t get over cooked.  You still want them to be mostly crispy when they are frozen.  This will give them a better texture when cooked later in the year.

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After the beans have cooled, they need to dry.  I usually just leave them in a strainer for awhile.  They can also be laid out on a cookie sheet.  They don’t have to be totally dry, but you don’t want to put them in the freezer soaked.  If there is a lot of extra water, then you will end up with ice.  To much ice can cause freezer burn over time.

I separate the beans into bags based on how many we will use for a meal.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal the bag, and place into the freezer.

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Beans are an easy vegetable to preserve, and the process doesn’t take much time.  At the end it is satisfying for me to be able to save some of what I grow for later.  That is less vegetables we will need to buy later  the year.

-Joshua

Wednesday In The Garden: 07/05/2017

It is hard to believe that 2017 is now over halfway gone. We are now entering the hot season. It isn’t as bad as some places, but most days will be in the mid 80s to upper 90s for the next few months. This is still a great time of year because many of veggies are ripening. 

I don’t have a ton of pictures today since I was busy making ice cream yesterday. 

My first pictures are of passion fruit flowers. The passion fruit vines were one of the great surprises when we moved in. We had no idea what the fruit was at first. Thankfully, Google makes it easy to find things like that out. 

The vines originated in one of our neighbors yards, but we were able to reap the benefits of their plants. Sadly, the other neighbor next to them built a huge ugly retaining wall which killed the passion fruit vines.  

Over the last year or so, the passion fruit neighbor has been bring back the plants. He started from seeds, and put about 10 plants along the fence line. Those plants are growing well this year and have started to flower. Hopefully those flowers turn into passion fruit this year. 


I also have some pictures of our pumpkins which have started to ripen. One of them is inside the pallet I used as a trellis. I just hope I can get it out without causing damage. 


I hope you all have a good week in your gardens. 

-Joshua

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