Monday, 3 October 2016

A garden full of surprises

My effords in the spring bore fruit, but not necessarily what I expected.
This year there were a few surprises.
Carrots never grew. One always reads that carrots are easy to grow. I have grown them for the last three years.
Not this time. Nope, they didn't germinate. I bought several new seed packets. Nothing. Weird.
Spinach and peas but no carrots.
But there were other crops I have never seen before.
There was that cucumber seed that turned out into something like a cucumber-melon. Started out like a small pickled cucumber and then grew round and yellow. What the h...? We tasted them - they tast like cucumber.
The other thing is this. I thought it was an acorn squash but it turned out my neighbour knew better.

It is a "petit gris de rennes melon", a very old heirloom melon with origin in France. One of the most expensive melons on the gourmet food marked.
They were delicious, very sweet and full of flavour. MMMMh.
What I thought was pumpkin seeds turned out to be zuccini! Under the big leaves I found these three.
and a month later another pair - even bigger. And more "cucumber-melons". The biggest zuccini is 2.2kg (4.8pound). Amazing.

A rare guest at my house was sitting in the apple tree.
A cardinal. He was gone in a blink of the eye.

Welcome to PatsyIrene. Thanks for joining my blog. I read in your blog that you froze your apples? I have never done that and definitely will try it this fall because I have not enough time right now to make apple sauce at the moment.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Egg Dye Time

Easter time is egg dye time. There are hundreds of suggestions online about how to colour boiled eggs. 
I read a few and got the impression that some of the authors don't even know what they did. 
The easiest, of course, is to buy food colours and dip the eggs into the solution. 
But I wanted to do it "the natural way". 
My mom would dye the eggs orange with onion peelings. 

What about other hues - like 
green, blue, yellow, red? 
After searching the net I dived into my fridge. 
What would I come up with?
White onions, 
Red cabbage, 
Frozen Blueberries, 
Frozen Spinach. 
For yellow, I choose Tumeric (1 Tablespoon).
Jars with Tumeric-, onion-, red cabbage dyes

I chopped (only the outer layer) leafs of a red cabbage. 
I used the brown, papery layers of the onion, 
crushed blueberries 
and spinach. 

Each batch was boiled with 2 cups of water and simmered for about 30 minutes. 
Except for the onions dye, I added 2 Tablespoon of white vinegar to the concoctions.

(Other recipes suggested washing the boiled eggs with vinegar, I have to try that next time.
Or the addition of baking soda, the usage of Hibiscus tea. That will be future experiments as well.)

Some raw eggs were boiled for 10 min in the dye. 
Others were hard-boiled up front and then 
submerged in jars containing the warm solution. 
Those eggs stayed refrigerated overnight in the dye. 

Some eggs were dyed 
keeping the leafs/berries in the solution, 
others after the fluid was filtered through a coffee filter.

I am pleased with a pretty good array of colours. 

Results :
I used mostly white eggs, but tried a few brown ones too.

The longer the egg stays in the dye, the more intense the colours. (30 min - 16 hours)
Fresh veggies/fruit give the best result.
Frozen blueberries and frozen spinach did not do well.  
It resulted in dark, dull grey blue and brownish tints. 
Not the bright purple or pale green I had anticipated.
A bath in Tumeric turned out into a pleasing, bright yellow.
Brown onion peelings: light orange to deep orange/brown
Red cabbage: light blue to turquoise
Frozen blueberries: dull purple 
Frozen spinach: dull, brownish green

First yellow submerged in cabbage dye: 
greenish yellow or yellow brown marbled
First blue submerged in onion dye: 
marbled, orange brown
First blueberries then onion: 
dark brown, olive hue
First cabbage then blueberries: 
greyish blue

Blown-out eggs will just float on top of the dye. 
I pushed them manually under water 
until the air inside had completely bobbled out. 
After that the egg stayed submerged.

I did not tried to dye raw eggs, and blow them afterwards.
It might be a different way of getting eggs 
for decoration purposes. 
A project for another day.

All in all - it was fun!

Happy Easter!

Update: March, 28
Washing the eggs with vinegar did not change the dyeing one bit.
Both, the vinegar rinsed egg and the unwashed one looked exactly the same after the dyeing process.
 Having used strawberry pie-filling on a cake my husband was about to toss the can in the garbage when I stopped him.
Rinsing out the can with a little water resulted in a nice red dye.
It is artificial food colouring, I guess.
But it made a good substitute for pink/red colour.
Raw eggs, submerged over night turned out
nice pink with an orange tint.

Auntie's translation

Osterzeit ist die Zeit zum Eierfärben. Dieses Mal habe ich keine Farben gekauft sonder mich auf natürliche Farben verlassen. Für die blau/türkis Farbe wurde Rotkohl verwendet. Orange ergab ein Bad in gekochten Zwiebelschalen und das helle Gelb kommt von Tumeric (Gelbwurzel). Einige Mischungen ergaben Tiefbraun, Blaugrau oder Olivebraun. Der Versuch die Eier mit Spinat grün zu färben ist mir nicht gelungen. Ich glaube man sollte dafür besser ganz frischen Spinat nehmen. Für eine rosa/rote Färbung hätte ich Hibiskustee haben müssen. 
Das will ich ein anderes Mal ausprobieren. 
Es hat aber viel Spaß gemacht. 
Frohe Ostern!

Saturday, 19 March 2016

March Apple Talk

I just want to let you know how it went with our apples we harvested in late November / early December. 
As I told you earlier, the majority was stored in a cool attic room. 
During the coldest months the temperatures in the room 
went down to just above the freezing mark.
The fruit were checked regularly and bad ones discarded. 
Some of the apples were stored on a flattened card board 
(to the right in the photo below). 
Several month later these show a wrinkled skin, 
but there is nothing wrong with these apples. 
Their flavour is still great.
Others were stored in a open plastic bag 
under the rafters in the basement. 
Those kept their smooth skinned appearance,
and I am sure they will keep a few more weeks. 
(The plastic bag prevented evaporation, I guess.) 
Look at the insides, flawless, like freshly picked of the tree. 

Amazing and I am so pleased 
with the outcome of my experiment!
It shows that the old fashioned apples are not bad at all.
 I don't need all these "newfangled" GMO apples that can be
stored for ages without loosing their shine. 
My apples don't need any treatment 
and still keep their freshness for many month. 
These old apples provided us with fresh fruit 
all winter long. I bet they also contain 
more nutrients than their modern cousins.

That day, I decided to cook up some of the wrinkled ones 
and bake a 
German Apple pie with a "Streusel" topping. 
You will ask why it looks blue-black?
The answer is: 
I didn't cook enough apples and 
filled up the void with a handful of frozen blueberries.
Apple-Blueberry Streusel Pie.

Today, a week later, I baked the second one. 
The first one didn't last long.


Auntie's Translation

Die Äpfel, die wir Ende November/ Anfang Dezember geerntet hatten haben sich wunderbar gehalten.
Einige sind etwas runzlig geworden, andere, die in einer Plastiktüte untergebracht waren, sind noch ganz glatt.
Doch die Schnittfläche ist ganz frisch, 
und am Geschmack ist auch nichts auszusetzen. 
Da sieht man daß man nicht unbedingt diese modernen Äpfel kaufen muß. Die alten Apfelsorten lassen sich problemlos überwintern. 
Wir haben den ganzen Winter frische Äpfel gegessen, und ich
bin überzeugt daß unsere Äpfel gehaltvoller sind.

Von einem Teil der runzligen Äpfel habe ich letzte Woche einen 
Apfelstreusel gebacken. Da ich nicht genügend Äpfel gekocht 
hatte habe ich kurzerhand eine Tasse gefrorener 
Blaubeeren dazu mischen.
Die Kombination war ganz hervorragend!

Heute habe ich schon den zweiten Kuchen gebacken.
Diese Mischung werde ich mir merken.

Friday, 22 January 2016

January Apple Talk

On Campobello Island you will find literally thousands of apple trees. These trees are remnants from a time when people still planted their own orchards.

Over the years various critters have been spreading the apple seeds around.
That way, it is hard to say whether our trees are planted or self-sown apple trees.

So far, we have found about 5 different sorts of apples on our property.
It is not easy to find out what kind of apples that might be, but I am pretty much convinced that they are all heirloom apples, and all are grown without any use of pesticides.
The one to the right is a good cooking apple and stores very well. 
The one to the left, showed "ridges" like a bell pepper. 
The one in the middle turned out to be a desert apple only.
Some apples ripen in late August, some in September. Some carry fruit every year, others only every other year (biannual).

You will find trees that keep their apples until the middle of December!
Even after a few frosty nights they were still good to eat and tasted delicious.

We harvested most of these late apples on the November 22/2015.
One type of apples: January 22, 2016. The longer these apples 
are stored, more pronounced the "ridges" are.
According to a description about late apples they should be very good storage apples. Truth is, they are. 
We have used these apples since I put them down in a cold room, and
two month later they still taste sweet, fruity and have a mild acidity. Their skin has become more and more waxy, though.
Old fashioned apples
How long will my stored apples last. Until February?
Maybe even until March? The tart ones I will make into applesauce.
But we cannot eat them all in time before they will start to rot.
And that would be such a waste!

Therefore I decided to try and make dried apple rings.
The "apple peeler-corer-slicer-machine"
A while ago we acquired an apple peeler that also slices and removes the core. Neat!
 I used the best looking apples, washed them,
cut them into rings with the machine and layered them
on a cookie sheet. I left the peel on for added fibre. I also could have bathed them in lemon juice/water to avoid oxidation, but I didn't have lemon at hand. I former times not all house wives hat access to lemons either.
After 6 hours by 170°F (76 °C) the rings were done. (That is the lowest setting on my oven.)
The slices were left in the oven over night to cool down completely
before I filled them into mason jars. 
A tablespoon of dry rice added to each jar will keep any future moisture out. Now the apples can be refrigerated for several more month. I doubt they will last that long.

Making dried apple rings is definitely something I will do again! Next time I also will try the lemon-washed-and-sprinkled-with-cinnamon way of treating the apple slices.

These apple rings turned out delicious! 
So long!

I you liked this, check out my postings about "non cooking" related stuff.