First Tomatoes of the Season

Tonight at the garden we found the first of the tomatoes! The Matt’s Wild Cherry tomato that we ordered specially in May at the farmer’s market is our winner for first fruit of the season.  I suppose it’s no wonder – they are tiny little things.  Here they are in full glory, shown to size.

My salad next week will be awesome.

Garden Tally

This year, I’ve decided to keep track of what produce we take home from the garden, to the best of my ability anyway.  I’ve already given a ton of lettuce away, without weighing, so it won’t be perfect, but I’d love to add it all up at the end of the year and find out how much we got.

Anyway, this week, we took home more lettuce, sugar snap peas, purple podded peas, and the first of the cucumbers.  Oh, and a couple of tiny carrots from thinning.  Hurrah!

So, the tally so far for the year:

LETTUCE: 2lbs

SUGARSNAP PEAS: 2lbs

PURPLE PODDED PEAS: 1lb, 8oz.

CUCUMBERS: 1 lb.

CARROTS: 1 oz.  (yea, that’s not a typo, they’re really little 🙂

And this is just the beginning….

Farmer’s Market Sunday

I’m loving the farmer’s market this time of year, with each week bringing new produce that’s coming into season.  This week was the first of the apple’s for the year.  Yes, apples are NOT in season all year round.

This week we picked up:

  • 1 half-gallon of reduced-fat milk and 1 pint chocolate milk from Battenkill Creamery
  • 1 pint nectarines and 1 quart Lodi apples from Maynard Farm
  • Approx. 3lbs Kansas City-style pork ribs from Sweet Tree Farm
  • 1 bagel and one challah roll from Our Daily Bread
  • 1 carrot cupcake and 1 blueberry muffin from Cream Cream Cakes

A few notes from this week:

* I’ve never had a nectarine.  How weird is that?  We went at the tail end of the market today and there were only 2 quarts left, so I thought I’d try some.  What was even funnier is that Farmer Maynard told me before he started growing them he’d never had one before either!

* The Lodi apple (pronounced Load-Eye and not Load-ee like I thought) is an early apple that doesn’t store very well (like most early apples). We’d never seen one before and thought we should give it a shot.  It’s supposed to be quite tart, so K is looking forward to it.

* I enjoyed my challah roll with loads of cream cheese and a big dollop of sugar-free cherry jam I made just last week on top.  A post on cherry picking is coming soon, but for Father’s Day, I made my dad 3 jars of sugar-free jam since he loves the stuff, and sugar-free because I love him and sugar is not great for him.  I used Xylitol instead, and I have to say, I can’t tell the difference between the sugar free and regular sugar jam.  I really must do this again, because normally I have to add 6 cups of sugar to my jam, and with this recipe, I only added 2.5 cups of xylitol.

*Tonight we ate the ribs (well, some of the ribs) with mashed potatoes with garlic scapes and shelled purple podded peas from our garden.  Not bad (the peas).  I picked a bunch more at the garden today and will try to dry them next.  It was fun to shell, but only because I had a limited amount from last week.  If I had bushels and bushels, not so much!

It’s Berrying Season!

June is here and almost gone and that means that berries of all sorts are in season!  A couple of weekends ago, K and I went strawberry picking and made short work of 4 quarts.  I won’t post about it in detail again, it was very similar to the strawberry picking we did last year, except that it was lightly misting and overcast.  This made it much nicer to pick rather than in the hot, sunny, humid weather.  We got 4 quarts this year, instead of 3 quarts like last, and aren’t planning to make any jam – there’s still a few jars left over.  And yet, we could have used even more!

The difference is, we finally purchased a dehydrator. Rather than heat up the whole house by putting on the oven to dehydrate, we can now use this dehydrate strawberries, cherries and blueberries, make fruit leather, and dry peas (oh yea, that’s coming).

So, after hulling strawberries, we froze a quart, kept a quart fresh for snacking on, and dried the rest.

The dehydrator has 4 “shelves” to dry on, pretty nifty.  For strawberries, you cut in half to dry.  They turn so small when they do!

2 quarts fresh turned into only a half a quart dried.

Next up, cherry picking.

New Garden Pics

Got into the garden again this weekend (plentiful rain is keeping us away much of the week).  The beginning of the bounty of the garden is here, and last week we took home a pound of lettuce.  We have so much, we’ve let our “next door” plot neighbor in to pick as much lettuce as she wants.  This will keep the lettuce from going to seed and continue producing!

Our first stop in the garden tour this week is the celery patch.  We’ve done a lot of weeding and mulching (to keep from having to weed) and we’re finally getting a foothold on all the weeding. There’s still so much to be done, but with the mulch, it makes it much much easier.

We have four plants, and they all look like this. Having never grown celery before, I’m not sure what it will look like when it finally starts to grow, but I really don’t see anything much yet.

Here are some of our green beans.  They are sparse this year though, many of the seeds didn’t germinate.  We will plant more, but for now, there’s a lot of empty spaces in our rows.

A potato vine!  We planted both adirondack blues and red chieftains this year – actually the first year we’ve tried planting potatoes.  Aren’t these cool looking?

Having never grown them before, I’m not really sure how they will turn out.

Moon and Stars Watermelon in a bed that needs to be weeded badly!  We have 4 of these, and they have a lot more room to grow this year than last.  A melon has yet to start growing, but hopefully soon.

Here is one of the zucchini plants we got from the market a few weeks ago.  Looks pretty pathetic, but I’m hoping it’s just recovering from transplanting.  However, it gives me much pride to look at THIS…

This gorgeous specimen we grew from seed ourselves.  Doesn’t it look SO much better than the market one?  I’m pretty proud.

Here’s one of our eggplants.  They are pretty badly eaten by some insect, and from my research, it looks like something called the flea beatle.  I’ve been spraying them with homemade insecticide, but I keep seeing damage.  The plants don’t appear to be dying though, and supposedly the flea beatle doesn’t prevent eggplants from growing, but I’m hoping something starts growing soon.

Ground cherry!! They took forever to grow from seed, and they haven’t gotten that much bigger in the ground, but they’re hanging in there. We’ll see if they produce anything this summer.

Blooming Nasturtium!  Not only pretty flowers, but also edible.  Try them on a salad, they’re kind of peppery!

Speaking of salad, here is my accidental lettuce bed, leftover from the lettuce that went to seed last year.  It’s crazy.  I picked a pound of lettuce last week, and at this point, I’m letting “plot neighbors” into pick whatever they want. This’ll keep the lettuce producing (wait, what am I thinking?) and stop it from going to seed.

Our lettuce is pretty cool. Last year we had Black seeded simpson and Amish deer tongue lettuce (with some red lettuce in there) and this year, it appears we have a hybrid!

From left to right: Black seeded simpson, amish deer tongue, a strange hybrid, and red lettuce.  Do you see what I’m talking about the hybrid? It’s somewhat straight but a little curled around the edges.

Moving on with the garden pics, here’s a Marconi pepper – a frying pepper that’s heirloom. I love Cubanelle’s but they’re not heirloom so we’ll try this instead!

I was trying to get a shot of the little cucumbers growing but it didn’t come out too well.  First year growing them, and I had no idea that cucumber plants were so prickly!

Here’s our carrot bed, completely overgrown.  We also need to thin out the carrots.  We learned last year if we don’t, they won’t grow that large, but have we done it yet? Of course not.

Broccoli plants! Nothing growing yet, but boy have they come a long way from the spindly seedlings I had back in April!

Little tomatoes growing!  I’m not exactly sure which kind this is  (I meant to mark them but didn’t), but I guess we’ll see soon enough. I’m thinking they’re cherry tomatoes, but we’ll see.

Onions!  ‘Nuff said. 🙂

Bolted onions!  There were two that never got harvested last year that are about to burst into bloom.  They’re not good to eat any more, but will provide pollen for bees, which is also very important.

And finally, peas glorious peas! This week we picked the first of the peas, both sugar snap and purple podded.  The sugar snap you can eat right off the vine, but the purple podded peas are a little tougher and need to be shelled.  I think I’m going to let the majority of them dry and them put them in a jar to use in soups like split pea this winter.

Not that you shell sugarsnap peas, but I just wanted to show the difference between them and the purple podded peas.  I have to make sure I dry these right so they don’t go to waste.

Till next time in the garden!

Predel’s Ranch

Last weekend, K and I took a drive to Predel’s Ranch in Rexford, about 15 minutes away from our house.   Predel’s is a farm/farm store run by Mary Predel that sells all sorts of items from local farms, but specializes itself in pastured meat.  While the meat is both grain fed and grass fed, I can now attest (in our first farm visit of the season) that the animals have room to roam, space to be with their babies, and have it pretty good for life on a farm that will inevitably lead to someone’s dinner plate.

Besides meat and eggs from their own farm, Predel’s also sells delicious creations from Smith’s Orchard Pies in Charlton.  You can take a pie home and bake it yourself, or call ahead and they’ll pop it in the oven for you to be bubbling hot when you come get it.  We saw two steaming on the counter for someone to pick up and it looked SO good.

They also have ice cream from The Ice Cream Man in Greenwich, cheese from Palatine Valley Cheese near Amsterdam (we’ve eaten their cheese curds before at the market and Indian ladder and they are great!), bread from Josephine’s Whole Grain in Glenville,(another staple at the Schenectady Greenmarket), and milk from Meadowbrook Farm. They even sell the honey made by their vet!  In addition, they also sell locally made bath soap, kitchen items, etc.

Before heading out to look at the animals, we first headed into the store to see what they had.  Jen gave us a tour.

This room had huge freezer chests running down both sides containing basically any sort of meat you could want, either from their farm, or another local farm.  Any kind of steak, ground beef, roast, stew meat, soup bones, lamb, turkey, pork, and chicken (I can’t remember if they had duck, but they might have) you could find there in almost any cut.  Ribs, loin, wings, thighs, skinless or not – and all for great prices as far as eating local goes! We bought a slightly more than 4lb box of *just* chicken thighs for less than $15.  A pound of chicken thighs (which come connected to the drumstick) from the farmer’s market is $6.50.

Though you can’t see it, where I was standing to take the picture are a few refrigerated cases carrying the cheese, eggs, milk, and amish-made butter.  While Predel’s has chickens, they keep them for their egg production and the chicken you can buy from them actually comes from another farm.

Here’s the main part of the store, with the locally produced goods, ice cream, jams (nope, got enough of those!), sauces, and on the other (unseen) side, pies, stove/sink and cash register.

Here is one of my favorite pictures because it looks like a working farm kitchen, albeit a modern one with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on the counter. Look at all those eggs!

Eggs, eggs everywhere as they are putting them BY HAND into the egg cartons for sale.

A closer view:

After our tour inside, we headed out on our own to see the farm.

Here’s the farmhouse.

Old sign.

We didn’t know quite where we were walking, so I squealed when the first thing I saw was the pig pen!

What’s this?  You can see the little guy on the left has just spotted us.  Visitors MUST mean good things because in the next second…

They all came BOUNDING over to us.  Well, I guess except that guy with his head in the dirt.  Dirt is much, much nicer.

They were so cute and so friendly.  Sorry little guys, we don’t have any food for you!

Aww, I stuck my hand out to pet them, but when they started trying to eat my sweatshirt sleeve, that was the end of that.

How cute is this picture?

We headed around the bend to a little shed where younger piglets were staying dry from the rain.  These guys were NOT used to company, and they began running around crazy trying to get away. Rather than stress them out too much, I took a pic and we kept moving.

Next we headed down the hill.  We could see in the distance cattle all together, but couldn’t get much closer.

As we headed back up the hill, we saw their fruit trees/bushes.  They seemed to have a few apple trees, cherry trees, raspberry/blackberry bushes.  But the only ones enclosed were the blueberry bushes. Do birds/animals only go for blueberries?

This picture shows their garden on the left, and the fruit area to the right.  The garden was at least half full of tomato plants. Hurray for lots of sauce later in the summer!

Seriously, with that garden and fruit area, add in a goat and a couple of chickens, and I would be so happy. 🙂

Before we left, we found multiple chicken coops, with most of the chickens inside to stay out of the rain.  These guys are layers, not meat chickens.

Hope you enjoyed our visit to Predel’s!

Farmer’s Market Sunday

Yes, it’s ridiculously late, but I was just going over my pictures from the week and realized I never posted this week’s goodies from the Greenmarket.

  • 1 quart cherries from Maynard Farm
  • 1lb buckwheat and 1lb wildflower honey
  • 1 pint chocolate milk and 1/2 gallon of reduced-fat milk
  • 8 oz. of mozzarella cheese and 32 oz. of maple yogurt from R&G cheese
  • 1 dozen jumbo eggs from Coopers Ark Farm
  • 1 bagel, 1 sticky bun, and 1 croissant from Our Daily Bread
  • 1lb of new red potatoes from Madura Farm
  • 1 bunch asparagus from Buhrmaster Farm
  • 3 pieces rhubarb from Migliorelli Farm
  • 1 bowl of black and white sticky rice with mango

Ok, this bowl of sticky rice.  It’s sort of the whole point of this post.

Oh my gosh. I was going through my pics, as I said previously, and it made my mouth water all over again.  This was made by Thunder Mountain Curry, with a recycled plastic bowl (boo for plastic, yay for it being recyclable), a banana leaf, black and white sticky rice with coconut cream infused lemongrass and the most delicious mango I’ve ever tasted on top.  It was melt-in-your-mouth goodness from the first bite till last.  The guy who served it said it was the last of the mango, and I’m hoping he’s wrong because I WANT MORE!!! But what do I know about the mango season, except for the fact that no, it’s definitely not local.

There are some rules made to be broken, which is why I’m not sure I can ever go 100% local.  Sweet, delicious mangoes?  Yes please. 🙂