I Can Can. Can You?

You know all those veggies in the previous post? Well they have to go somewhere, right? Mostly, they’re going to my stomach, which is super happy about that, but one person can only eat so many veggies…

Besides being frozen, dehydrated, put in recipes, given to the dog as treats, and given away, I have taught myself (with much help from others and from a step-by-step book) the art of canning.

My Mom and I actually went in on this project together. We acquired all of the supplies (minus a pressure cooker) and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. I read and learned…and then still asked for help because I am a disaster in the kitchen when it comes to cooking or preparing food at all.

For our first trick, we turned cucumbers into dill pickles. This actually was not that difficult to do. We went with a kosher pickle recipe and added a few things to it. All the ingredients, minus the spices, were from local farmer’s markets. The cucumbers were from my own garden.

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Washing off the cucumbers

Scruba, scruba, scruba

Scruba, scruba, scruba

Fresh dill from the farmer's market

Fresh dill from the farmer’s market

Garlic, bay leaf, 1/2 serrano pepper, and spices into each pickle jar

Garlic, bay leaf, 1/2 serrano pepper, and spices into each pickle jar

Klondike helped

Klondike helped

Heating jars, lids, ingredients

Heating jars, lids, ingredients

In they go

In they go

The final product

The final product

Mmmmm pickles

Mmmmm pickles

We ended up making 8 pints of pickles, which will be ready to open NEXT WEEK!!! I’m very excited to try them and see how they turn out!

In a frenzy of pickling excitement, we also made zucchini relish!! All of the zucchinis were from my garden.

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Chopped bell peppers, onion, and shredded zucchini

The spices

The spices

Ingredients

Ingredients

Toss everything in together

Toss everything in together

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Simmer

Can it! And there you have it: Zucchini relish

Can it! And there you have it: Zucchini relish

End of Summer BBQ anyone??

Canning is actually easier than I thought it would be….but I also haven’t done anything extremely difficult. I can still cross this off of my Summer Bucket List as my new learned skill.

*Pats self on back*

 

Garden To Table Goodness

I have been meaning to follow up with the Let Your Garden Grow post for a while now. Veggies are happening!! So SO many veggies. I’ve actually considered opening an zucchini stand next to the neighborhood kids’ lemonade stand….but I don’t want to steal their thunder. Although the garden has had some ups and downs, as expected, it is flourishing for the most part.

There are a few lessons I have learned along the way that only a plant could teach me (and Google when the plant won’t divulge).

  • Patience is a virtue – anyone who knows me knows that I am not necessarily the most patient person. (Those of you thinking “understatement of the century” just hush)
  • Don’t cast off something as dead, even though it may look it. My tomato plant has looked AWFUL for the past month, but still keeps giving me yellow pear tomatoes. In return, I’ll keep watering it as its reward.
  • Never trust an automated watering system. The zucchini are wilting due to lack of water. The cucumbers are sickly due to too much water. The green beans are exploding due to the right amount of water. It’s like Goldilocks, but with plants and water. Yeah, ok, that was a stretch.
  • Do NOT plant Fall veggies in the Summer. They will not do well. RIP arugula. (On the other hand, my kale and spinach are rocking it!)
  • If your neighboring community garden beds are full of rotting veggies due to lack of picking, it’s a free for all. It drives me nuts that people decide to plant and grow all this food and then let it go to waste. That’s where I come in to happily harvest those veggies for them, and either take them home, to my restaurant for use, or to the Food Bank. There are too many people who do not have food to let all of that go to waste. *Soapbox moment of the day brought to you by neglectful, lazy plant parents*
  • Carrots are deceiving. They may look ready to pick, but the joke’s on you when you pull up a tiny root instead. This goes for turnips and radishes as well. Sneaky bastards.
  • Vine plants will choke out anything else around them. Beware.
  • I LOVE the feeling of picking my dinner, or lunch, or what have you. I have a hate-hate relationship with the grocery store. Going out to the garden or out my front door to pick fresh ingredients beats it all. It’s such a good feeling to know what you’re eating, how it was grown, and where exactly it’s coming from. For me, that’s exciting.
  • I’m proud of this first garden attempt. It has gone well for the most part and has been overwhelmingly rewarding.

Here are a few things I have harvested:

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Green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, wax beans, tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, cucumbers, eggplant, turnips, carrots, snap peas, green onion, broccoli, spinach, kale, lettuce, and radishes.

My kind of ‘grocery shopping.’

My Summer Bucket List 2013

I am a list person. Always have been. When I have a ton of things to do, I make a list. When I am trying to learn something new, I make a list. Important events/dates? I make a list. Instructions: list. Directions: list. Sometimes, I even make a list for my lists…

That being said, I  have a bucket list for my life (which maybe I’ll share one day), but I thought it would be fun to do one just for the Summer. –Hooray for cliché blog posts!- There are some things that I have already completed, and will include anyway, but there are plenty more that I would like to do, or at least attempt to do.

  1. Brew and bottle beer #2. Done. It will be ready to drink by July 4! P.S. it’s DELICIOUS! And I’m not just saying that. Turned out way better than we thought!
  2. Hike a 14-er. I haven’t done this for a looooooooong time. Done. Hiked Mt. Elbert: elevation 14,443ft.
  3. Go camping.
  4. Water ski. Ok, ok attempt to water ski. Kind of done. Attempted to surf behind a boat. Lake surfing? Boat surfing?
  5. Go to a Rockies game. I can’t believe I haven’t been to one yet this Summer! DONE! I got to go to Todd Helton’s final home game. Ever. He has been my favorite player, and one of my good friends gave me a ticket right behind home plate. I also managed to snag a Todd Helton bobble head doll. It’s proudly placed in my window sill. 

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  1. Plant a veggie garden. Done (See Let Your Garden Grow!).  Above and beyond done. Reserve your squash and cucumbers now! We will have plenty to go around!
  2. Harvest and eat veggies out of our own garden. I cannot wait to do this! Done. And they are awesome!
  3. Get back in to a workout routine. It’s important to me, so I thought I’d include it. Mission hot bod by 26! Done! I even registered for a half marathon the day before my birthday! 
  4. Celebrate 1 year with my man. I know, *gag*. Ok, stopping the mush now. Done. 🙂 Starting over. I don’t need someone else to define who I am. Except for my dog. I’ll keep him.
  5. Catch a big fish and eat it. Here fishy, fishy, fishy.
  6. Move to a new house. This will be happening within the week. Wasn’t originally planned for the Summer, but flowing with life’s curveballs. Done. SO glad it’s done. 
  7. Hit a homerun. Done. If I could high-five myself I would.
  8. Go to a concert at Mishawaka Amphitheatre. I’ve never been!
  9. Buy a ticket to the Philippines. This will hopefully be happening soon for a trip in December! Done. Will be leaving Dec. 26. I love new adventures.
  10. Buy a new car. Done. Again, not originally planned.
  11. Create a budget list for myself and see where I can cut expenses (see #14 & #15). Done. Although it’s not going so well…
  12. Read 5 books. Didn’t quite hit 5, but I finished 3. 
  13. Water fight. ‘Nuff said.
  14. Learn how to compost. For the veggie garden of course.
  15. Unplug myself for a few days – no phone, computer, etc. I actually enjoy doing this.
  16. Take a road trip with no destination in mind. Hopefully I’ll end somewhere cool. Or lost. But I think that’s the point.
  17. Attend the local Sustainable Living FairActually, I will now be volunteering at it!!
  18. Go to a museum.
  19. Run a 5K. I’ve never officially done a race. Been training and running longer than a 5K. Signed up for a half marathon in September and a 10K in October.
  20. Go to a rodeo. I grew up going to them every Summer and haven’t been for a while.
  21. Take a night hike.
  22. Watch a sunrise. Yikes that’s early. Done. I always forget how breathtaking they are. Especially in Colorado. 
  23. See a meteor shower. Love watching these.
  24. Go to the Farmer’s MarketsDone. But will continue to go because I love them. 
  25. Spend some time outside every day. So far, so good.
  26. Learn a new skill. Done. Learning how to can and preserve!
  27. Attempt Geocaching.
  28. Go on a picnic.
  29. Make homemade granola bars.
  30. Go to an amusement park. I LOVE roller coasters!!
  31. Attend Film on the Rocks. I’ve only been to concerts here…never the movies.
  32. Go to the drive-in. I haven’t been in a long, long time.
  33. Do the brew tours. Again. Done. Always a good time.
  34. Actually ride my bike to work. ….if I can remember how to ride it. Jk (I hope).
  35. Take time to appreciate the little things.

Wow. I have a lot to do this Summer. Guess I better get started!

Maybe I should make a list about where to start….

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