It’s very easy to make this soft cheese; and it can be used in so many ways - it’s the one homemade cheese that I think anyone with dairy animals should know how to make. It can be used in any recipe that uses cream, farmer, or other soft cheese; and it freezes well so you can make cheese when milk is plentiful and preserve it for use when there’s no milk. It can be made with milk from your own dairy animals (if you use goat milk then it’s soft chevre cheese) or with whole cow milk from the store.
To make this cheese, you do need to obtain DVI (Direct [...]
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I love harvesting winter squash – as we’re rushing to get all the other garden veggies harvested and processed for winter storage; all the winter squash need is gathering, curing, and storing – chopping, cooking, canning or freezing not required! We’ve got a record batch this year too – I saved seed from several varieties last year, so we’ve got lots of squash and pumpkin coming in.
Winter squash should be harvested after the fruit turns a deep color and the rinds harden (usually during September and October), but definitely before heavy frost. The fruits should be cut from the vine carefully, leaving [...]
Continue reading Winter Squash: Harvesting, Curing, and Storing
We love avocados, and tend to buy them in quantities so they’re less expensive. But, then we run into issues when they all ripen at once and we can’t eat them fast enough. So, I’ve started freezing and vacuum packing them when they’re just ripe; and, we can have avocados any time. This works better for recipes like guacamole where the avocados don’t need to hold their shape – they don’t do that well after being frozen. They still taste great though, and now we really stock up when they’re on sale.
It’s really simple to do:
1) When the avocados are just [...]
Continue reading Freezing Avocados (or Guacamole Anytime!)
On our farm website, the first statement on the welcome page is “we’re a small, 10 acre farm in Northeast Ohio that believes locally grown, real foods are important” – but just why is locally grown food important?
It’s Fresher – locally grown foods are usually purchased by the consumer within 24 hours of harvest. Produce shipped across the country isn’t nearly that fresh.
Taste – locally grown food can be harvested at its peak; and produce picked and consumed at the height of ripeness tastes so much better!
Nutrition – nutritional values start declining in food immediately after harvest, so locally grown food is more nutritional because it’s fresh. The nutritional [...]
Continue reading Reasons to Buy Food Locally
The Better Hens and Gardens proclaimed focus is “Self Reliance – Real Foods – Sustainable Living”; but what does the “Real Foods” part of that really mean? I’ve been pondering that a lot lately, probably because of what I recently learned about raw milk and beverages. It turns out that you can’t sell raw milk in Ohio (or in many other states) and; in fact, there are very few beverages that aren’t pasteurized by law today – supposedly making them fit for human consumption but also destroying beneficial organisms and vitamins.
Is pasteurized milk, vegetable juice, apple cider, almond milk, etc. [...]
Continue reading What’s Real Food?
I love this stuff – it makes one of the best quick appetizers around and an instant gift too. It seems that sweet and jalapeno peppers are abundant in the garden every fall as the frosts start, so it’s a good time to stock up. This is a recipe that we prepare by water bath canning.
1 cup green bell pepper (seeded & diced small)
1 cup red bell pepper (seeded & diced small)
½ cup jalapeno pepper (seeded & diced small – be careful handling the hot peppers, be sure to wash hands well before touching eyes/nose or may want to wear gloves)
1 ½ [...]
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It’s the time of year when there are usually excess vegetables in the garden that need to be taken in before frost destroys them. Many of these vegetables can successfully be stored for months if the right storage conditions are provided. Even without a garden, buying quantities of these vegetables while they’re fresh and “in season” and storing them for later winter use can make sense. Both of these approaches provide fresh vegetables more economically than buying from the supermarket in the winter when it’s most expensive. In addition, vegetables picked and stored at their peak maturity usually have better [...]
Continue reading Long Term (Winter) Vegetable Storage
This year, we’re going to concentrate on growing more of the things we enjoy eating every day; and one of those things is baby carrots – but as I was investigating how baby carrots are grown and marketed, I was surprised to learn what the baby carrots we typically buy in the grocery store really are.
Most of the carrots sold in the store as babies are really full-size carrots that were rejected because they were crooked, deformed, or too small. These unacceptable full-size carrots are cut down to look baby-size, and then peeled. Since much of a carrots nutritional value lies in the skin, these pseudo-baby carrots [...]
Continue reading Baby Carrots – Well, Not Exactly
In the US today, we’re being offered more and more choices in food quality; and it’s because many of us are demanding locally grown foods that are antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide free. In terms of eggs quality, it’s not clear sometimes what the choices mean – here’s a rundown on the different types of eggs:
Commercial or “Factory Farmed” Eggs
These are the standard grocery store eggs; and unfortunately, the “farms” that produce these eggs are typically poultry houses where the hens are housed indoors in tiny metal cages. They’re routinely debeaked (part of their beaks are cut [...]
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We have a chest freezer, but I had no idea what was in there anymore. So, as part of a more organized New Year, I decided to organize it and keep an inventory. This picture shows what it looked like before – kinda scary huh?
For the inventory, I just used an Excel spreadsheet. The simple inventory set-up I created in Excel is shown below. It has cagegories for which freezer, the location in the freezer, description of the food, how much, what measure, and the date it was frozen. Hopefully, this will help us find what’s in there, and use up the oldest food first.
What’s In That Freezer?
Every year it seems that there’s an overload of tomatoes in the fall, so I make and freeze this sauce to use up all those great tomatoes. It gets us through until tomatoes are fresh again next year. The recipe is adapted from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash.
7 lbs. tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped red or yellow pepper
1/2 cup beef, chicken, or vegetable broth
1 cup tomato paste (this can be omitted but the sauce must be simmered substantially longer to achieve consistency)
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground [...]
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I think this was the predecessor to catsup, and it’s much better. Catsup seems kind of bland to me – but boy do I like this stuff. We first tried it on hamburgers (and it completely ruined any chance catsup had of getting on my hamburger again). If using fresh tomatoes, make sure they’re big, bold, high flavor tomatoes – don’t bother with insipid hybrids. It’s good on pork, beef, grilled onions, roasted vegetables, and I’m wondering about a cracker with goat cheese. Anyway, I found it at “The Splendid Table” ” blog (see Favorite Links) under Sweet and Piquant Tomato Jam. I also [...]
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This year I planned to grow only heirloom tomatoes (Brandywine, Green Zebra, and Eggyolk), but in a crazed moment (what if the heirlooms don’t produce this year?) I picked up some Early Girl transplants at the garden center. So, I have two orange tomatoes ripening in the garden right now, Brandywine and Early Girl.
The Early Girl tomatoes (picture on the right) look beautiful – deep orange, blemish-free, uniformly round, and you expect they’ll be delicious. The Brandywine tomatoes are not so pretty (the picture on the left). They’re deeply ribbed, often cracked, and randomly shaped. Folks that haven’t experienced heirloom tomatoes go straight for the Early Girls.
But beauty doesn’t create a great [...]
Continue reading A Tale of Two Tomatoes